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US: Retail, tech stocks lead equities lower

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 06:43
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[NEW YORK] Retail and tech equities led US stock markets lower on Monday following a disappointing kickoff of the holiday shopping season.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 51.44 points (0.29 per cent) at 17,776.80.

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 14.12 (0.68 per cent) to 2,053.44, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index sank 64.28 (1.34 per cent) to 4,727.35. Apple's 3.3 per cent drop weighed on both the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.

Retailers ranging from discount giant Wal-Mart Stores (-1.5 percent) to department store Macy's (-2.7 per cent) and electronics vendor Best Buy (-5.5 per cent) suffered after the National Retail Federation estimated the average shopper spent 6.4 per cent less than a year ago over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The day after Thursday's Thanksgiving Day holiday, known as "Black Friday," unofficially kicks off the critical year-end shopping season.

"It was a tough day for anything that is tied to the consumer," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading, Wedbush Securities.

James noted that many retail stocks were vulnerable after notching big gains in November ahead of Black Friday.

Several high-flying tech stocks also fell sharply, including Facebook (-3.4 per cent), Tesla Motors (-5.3 per cent) and Twitter (-6.5 per cent). Google dropped 1.5 per cent while Netflix fell 1.4 per cent.

Mace Blicksilver, director of Marblehead Asset Management, said some investors took advantage of the "turn of the calendar" to December to take profits after the Nasdaq's especially strong November.

Chinese online retail giant Alibaba sank 5.1 per cent after a US retailing lobby, the Alliance for Main Street Fairness, targeted the company in its campaign against tax advantages that Internet vendors enjoy over fixed stores.

US online retailing giant Amazon tumbled 3.7 per cent as Moody's shifted its outlook to negative after the company announced plans to issue more debt.

Several petroleum equities rallied as crude prices rebounded from five-year lows. Dow members ExxonMobil and Chevron gained 2.0 per cent and 2.6 per cent, respectively, while smaller producers Occidental Petroleum (+3.8 per cent) and EOG Resources (+0.6 per cent) also advanced.

But oil services stocks continued to drop. Schlumberger fell 0.8 per cent, Halliburton lost 2.4 per cent and Transocean slumped 4.9 percent.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.22 per cent from 2.19 per cent Friday, while the 30-year advanced to 2.95 per cent from 2.91 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

AFP

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