Stocks slid on Tuesday as a smaller-than-expected rise in retail sales raised doubts about a rebound in consumer spending, a vital part of an economic recovery.

Shares of NYSE Euronext , fell 1.3 percent at $38.92 after it agreed to be acquired by Deutsche Boerse to create the world's largest exchange operator. The deal dodges key questions that could threaten its completion.

Shares of other U.S. exchanges also fell, including Nasdaq OMX Group Inc , off 4.8 percent at $38.23.

Sales at U.S. retailers in January fell more than forecast, likely reflecting the effects from snowstorms that had slammed large parts of the country.

The S&P retail index <.RLX> dipped 0.1 percent.

The report contrasted with recent economic data, most of which has suggested the recovery was gaining traction.

If you look at what the equity market has done over the last (several months), you would assume the recovery is self-sustaining, said Subodh Kumar, an investment strategist based in Toronto. The S&P 500 is up 26 percent since September.

But the day's data was a splash of cold water on that view.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 56.04 points, or 0.46 percent, at 12,212.15. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was off 5.73 points, or 0.43 percent, at 1,326.59. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> declined 13.43 points, or 0.48 percent, at 2,803.75.

Volume totaled about 1.68 billion shares, average for morning trade.

Shares of JDS Uniphase Corp fell 6.8 percent to $25.98 after Bernstein cut its rating on the stock to market-perform from outperform.

In other economic data, a gauge of manufacturing in New York State climbed to its highest level in eight months in February, while U.S. import prices jumped at nearly double the forecast rate as energy costs shot up in another sign of creeping inflationary pressure.

(Additional reporting by Edward Krudy; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)