(Updates to market open)
* Auto sales fall short of expectations
* Best Buy climbs after results
* Citigroup to sell OneMain Financial to Springleaf Holdings
* Indexes off: Dow 0.35 pct, S&P 0.41 pct, Nasdaq 0.44 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged lower shortly after the open on Tuesday in the wake of the latest records for the Dow and S&P and the Nasdaq scaling the 5,000 mark for the first time in 15 years.
The Nasdaq had notched its first close above the 5,000 milestone since March 10, 2000, buoyed by merger activity, for only the third close above that level in the history of the index. The Dow and S&P closed at their latest records as economic data pointed to a slowly improving economy.
“The market is naturally settling in, taking a breather until the scales tip either way to commence the next move to continued to new heights or a consolidated pullback,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
“It’s a pause before the next set of impactful numbers come out, highlighted by the jobs report on Friday.”
For the second year in a row, ferocious winter weather slowed U.S. vehicle sales in February, with several major automakers missing analysts’ projections and dampening bullish expectations.
U.S.-listed Fiat Chrysler shares lost 2.3 percent to $15.47 while Ford Motor declined 2.3 percent to $16.19. General Motors shed 0.2 percent to $37.55.
Electronics retailer Best Buy climbed 2.7 percent to $39.67 after it reported quarterly results, announced a special dividend and the resumption of its share repurchase plan.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 63.8 points, or 0.35 percent, to 18,224.83, the S&P 500 lost 8.58 points, or 0.41 percent, to 2,108.81 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 22.15 points, or 0.44 percent, to 4,985.95.
Citigroup edged up 0.3 percent to $53.67 after it agreed to sell its consumer finance unit OneMain Financial Holdings Inc to subprime lender Springleaf Holdings Inc for $4.25 billion in cash. Springleaf shares surged 31.8 percent to $50.14.
Mylan Inc fell 2.3 percent to $56.55. The generic drug maker gave its 2015 outlook and said it may look for another acquisition after completing a deal for some of Abbott Laboratories’ non-U.S. businesses just last week.
MannKind Corp tumbled 8.7 percent to $6.06 after Goldman Sachs cut its rating on the drugmaker to “sell” from “neutral” and slashed its price target to $3 from $6 per share.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,874 to 828, for a 2.26-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,603 issues fell and 665 advanced, for a 2.41-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The S&P 500 index 4 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 29 new highs and 11 new lows. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)