US STOCKS-Wall St off in choppy trading after soft data

miércoles 25 de marzo de 2015 11:30 GYT

* Durable goods data unexpectedly weak

* Kraft up 42 pct, Kofax adds 46 pct after separate deal news

* Indexes off: Dow 0.35 pct, S&P 0.15 pct, Nasdaq 0.68 pct (Updates prices, adds data, comment)

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, March 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell in choppy, tight-range trading on Wednesday, with indexes reacting to moves in currency markets and to a gauge of industrial orders that unexpectedly fell last month.

A drop in durable goods orders pushed the dollar index lower , giving initial support to equities as it eases fears that the rally in the U.S. currency will hurt corporate earnings. However, with valuations stretched as stock indexes trade near record highs, weak economic data is not welcome.

"The dollar strength can sap earnings growth, but if you continue to see soft economic data here, a confirmation of decelerating growth, that will certainly affect the market," said Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co in Florham Park, New Jersey.

He said, with the S&P 500's forward price-to-earnings ratio above 17 and at its highest since late 2007, "you have to torture the numbers to make a bull case at this point."

At 11:15 a.m. EDT (1515 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average fell 63.52 points, or 0.35 percent, to 17,947.62, the S&P 500 lost 3.06 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,088.44 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 33.98 points, or 0.68 percent, to 4,960.75.   Continuación...