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Stocks slip in midday trading; Apple hits new high

Bernard Condon, AP Business Writer

FILE- In this Sept. 13, 2012, file photo, specialist Sean O'Brien works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Global stock markets were muted Monday, Sept. 17, as the boost faded from the Federal Reserve's announcement last week of new measures to energize the U.S. economy.(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are slipping Monday, threatening to break a four-day rally that pushed indexes close to pre-recession highs.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 32 points to 13,561 shortly after noon Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell three points to 1,463. The Nasdaq composite lost nine points to 3,175.

U.S. stocks are coming off a surge last week that sent the S&P 500 to its highest level in nearly five years. Investors bought stocks on news that the Federal Reserve planned to buy mortgage bonds in an effort to get people to borrow and spend more. Many believe central banks in Europe and Asia will follow suit.

In European trading, Germany's DAX slipped 0.1 percent while France's CAC-40 dropped 0.8 percent.

In economic news, the Empire State Manufacturing Survey suggested that conditions for New York manufacturers continued to weaken in September.

"We're not completely out of the woods economically, and that's weighing on markets," said Wasif Latif, vice president of equity investments at USAA Investments. He added that, as indexes hover at multi-year highs, "psychological barriers and technical barriers may be tough to breach."

Apple rose $6.79 to $698.07, on track for a new closing high. The stock market's most valuable company said that advanced sales for its iPhone 5 available later this week are running at double the level of advanced sales for the previous version.

Office Depot Inc. rose 19 cents, or nearly 8 percent, to $2.66 after an investment firm pushing for changes at the office-supply chain announced it had become the retailer's largest shareholder. Office Depot has struggled recently because businesses have cut spending at its stores as the economy has slowed.

Iris International Inc., a maker of medical test products, jumped $6, or 45 percent, to $19.48 after its board agreed to sell the company to Danaher Corp., a health care and industrial manufacturer.

In the Empire State survey, the general business conditions index slipped five points to minus 10.4, its second consecutive negative reading. The new orders index fell nine points to minus 14.0, its third straight negative reading. Both reached their lowest levels in almost two years.

Also on Monday, China filed a World Trade Organization case challenging U.S. anti-dumping measures on billions of dollars of kitchen appliances, paper and other goods, further straining trade relations as global demand weakens.

Earlier, the Obama administration said it would file its own WTO case this week. It says China improperly subsidizes exports of cars and car parts.

On Tuesday, the National Association of Home Builders releases its survey for September sales. The government follows on Wednesday with data on both housing starts and existing home sales.