Stocks slid on Tuesday as energy shares pulled back, creating a breather in the market's recent rally.

Volume was lighter than average, totaling about 3.5 billion shares around midday. Volume on Monday was the lowest so far this year.

Energy stocks have been among the market's leaders in the recent rally, with the S&P energy index up 45 percent since the start of September, while the benchmark S&P 500 is up 26 percent.

On the day, Exxon Mobil was down 2.2 percent to $83.06, while the S&P energy index <.GSPE> was down 1.1 percent, as oil prices slumped.

Technology, too, has outperformed the broader market in that period, with the S&P tech index <.GSPT> up 33 percent.

Shares of JDS Uniphase Corp dropped 7.5 percent to $25.81 after Bernstein cut its rating on the stock to market-perform from outperform.

An index of semiconductors <.SOX> was down 0.8 percent.

It's getting a little sloppy after the huge run we've had, said Robert Francello, head of equity trading for Apex Capital in San Francisco.

But he said the market could still end higher. No matter what we throw at it, there seems to be a bid for the market.

Shares of NYSE Euronext fell 3.3 percent at $38.14 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 nearly 5 percent at $28.16.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 34.59 points, or 0.28 percent, at 12,233.60. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 3.10 points, or 0.23 percent, at 1,329.22. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 6.81 points, or 0.24 percent, at 2,810.37.

Data showing a smaller-than-expected rise in retail sales raised doubts about a rebound in consumer spending, a vital part of the economic recovery.

But the S&P retail index <.RLX> was up 0.2 percent after being down earlier in the day.

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

In other economic data, a gauge of manufacturing in New York State climbed to its highest 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 pressures.

(Editing by James Dalgleish)