New York - US stocks opened modestly lower Monday as traders remained cautious after Washington moved into austerity mode with the launch of the steep sequester spending cuts.

Forty-five minutes into trade (17:15 SA time) the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 35.03 points (0.25 percent) to 14,054.63.

The broad-based S&P 500 lost 3.86 points (0.25 percent) to 1,514.34, while the Nasdaq Composite slipped 8.54 points (0.27

percent) to 3,161.20.

Trade was quiet with few large movers either way and little concrete news to prod them.

Yahoo gained 2.1 percent after earning an upgrade from Barclays, while other big tech stocks were mixed: Apple fell 1.1 percent, Google added 0.6 percent, and Intel slipped 0.1 percent.

Oil company Hess picked up 3.5 percent after saying it would exit downstream businesses and focus on exploration and production.

Bed and mattress maker Select Comfort was one of the few moving sharply.

The company's share plunged 15.7 percent after it said February sales were disappointing and its first quarter performance could miss forecasts.

Retailing giant Target gained 2.6 percent.

Bond prices were flat; the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond was barely changed at 1.86 percent, up from 1.85 percent late Friday, while the 30-year held at 3.07 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely. - Sapa-AFP