US STOCKS-Wall St turns lower as China, Ukraine worries offset data
* Latest China data points to slowing economy
* Ukraine tensions continue, Merkel warns Russia
* Initial claims fall, retail sales tops estimate
* Indexes off: Dow 0.42 pct, S&P 0.32 pct, Nasdaq 0.42 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 13 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged lower on Thursday as earlier gains spurred by better-than-expected data on retail sales and the labor market were offset by worries over Ukraine and the health of China's economy.
Weekly initial jobless claims fell 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 315,000, marking a fresh three-month low and better than the forecast 330,000 new claims. Retail sales for February rose 0.3 percent, slightly more than the 0.2 percent estimated and ending two straight months of declines, although the prior month was revised lower.
In addition, import prices increased 0.9 percent last month, the biggest rise since February last year, with little sign of a broad pick-up in imported inflation.
Investors have discounted many economic numbers that have fallen short of expectations recently, attributing the weakness to a harsh winter across much of the country. Economic activity, evidenced by such data as retail sales, is expected to improve as the weather warms. Continuación...