U.S. stock benchmarks fell slightly early Monday as investors positioned for the start of earnings season, and braced for inflation data that could signal whether a surge in rising prices is in the works or set to be transitory. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +1.09% fell 0.1% to around 33,754, the S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.75% retreated 0.1% at 4,123, while the Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.50% was trading 0.3% lower at 13,861. In corporate news, shares of Nuance Communications /zigman2/quotes/202549318/composite NUAN -0.04% jumped in early trading after Microsoft Corp /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT +0.48% announced it will buy the speech-recognition company in a $16 billion deal. Markets also were parsing comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell who said the economy "seems to be at an inflection point," with strong growth coming "right now" and the weakness caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the rearview mirror. His comments were from a "60 Minutes" interview that aired on Sunday.