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Stocks Post Tepid Gains on Heels of Slowing Chinese Production

Tickers in this article: DKS ELN HIMX SCR T ^DJI ^GSPC ^IXIC

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock averages exhibited a lack of conviction Monday, rising slightly amid discouraging economic data from China, the world's second-largest economy.

At last check, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.25% to 14,433.06 with 23 stocks advancing and 7 declining.

The S&P 500 added 3.04 points, or 0.2%, to 1554.22. The Nasdaq was up 1.24 points, or 0.04%, at 3,245.61.

Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) shares were plunging 9.8% to $45.64 after the Coraopolis, Penn.-based company forecast same-store sales to increase 2% to 3% in 2013, a slower growth rate than the 4.3% increase last year. Dick's reported fourth-quarter earnings of $1.03 a share on revenue of $1.8 billion, short of the average analyst estimate of earnings of $1.06 a share on sales of $1.86 billion.

AT&T(T) shares were dropping 0.44% to $36.52 after Reuters, citing the Times of India newspaper, said the U.S. telecom is interested in buying a 25% stake in India's Reliance Jio Infocomm , a telecommunications venture controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, for $3.5 billion.

Gainers included UnitedHealth(UNH) , Boeing(BA) and American Express (AXP) .

Verizon(VZ) , General Electric (GE) and Microsoft(MSFT) were among the Dow components trading lower.

Sectors were mixed in the broader market. Technology, conglomerates, and consumer non-cyclical shares were edging lower while consumer cyclical, financial and capital goods sectors were ticking higher.

Data from China, published Saturday, continued to indicate a lackluster start to 2013. Reports showed that while inflation increased more than expected, both industrial production and retail sales were less than expected. China was also experiencing slower credit growth.

"A slew of China's economic data were released over the weekend and the economic outlooks painted by the economic data were less than satisfactory," noted Sim Han Qiang, investment analyst at Phillip Futures.

"Thus far, Chinese government has been proactive in dealing with property inflation but the desired results have not been forthcoming," the analyst added.

There were no major U.S. economic releases scheduled for Monday.

Volume on the New York Stock Exchange totaled a mere 1.76 billion shares and 1.01 billion shares on the Nasdaq.

The Dow on Friday smashed through 14,400 for the first time before pulling back by the close to post its fourth consecutive record closing session. The Dow and the S&P 500 booked six-day winning streaks on Friday.

Major U.S. stock averages ended higher Friday after a robust February employment report showed a decline in the unemployment rate to near pre-recession levels.

U.S. retail sales for February will be published Wednesday, potentially offering insight into consumption trends and how the sequester's economic impact on consumers.

Gold for April delivery was rising $1.50 to $1,578.40 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while April crude oil futures were down 42 cents to $91.53 a barrel.