Stocks fell for much of the session, but edged closer to break-even
levels in the last hour of trading. Still, the losses were broad,
with eight of the 10 S&P 500 sector indexes ending lower for the day
on concerns that the market's recent rally to record levels was not
About 60 percent of the shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange
closed lower for the day, while 56 percent of Nasdaq-listed stocks
Many market participants expect the Fed to announce a cut in its $85
billion in monthly bond purchases in March, but recent economic data
increased expectations that the move may come sooner. The Fed has
said it would slow its stimulus program when certain economic
measures meet its targets, including a decline in the U.S.
The ADP National Employment Report showed private-sector employers
added 215,000 jobs in November, more than expected. This was the
latest in a string of reports suggesting that the economy's outlook
"Stronger economics means earlier tapering, which is a negative for
the market. On top of that, we've surged to new highs with a lot of
optimism, and that normally calls for a pullback, if only briefly,"
said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank
in Cleveland, Ohio.
"If the decline is mostly about sentiment, we should work through it
quickly and be back to seeing better action," he added. "But the
pullback could be more pronounced, the more people focus on the
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> slipped 24.85 points, or
0.16 percent, to end at 15,889.77. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
<.SPX> declined 2.34 points, or 0.13 percent, to finish at 1,792.81.
But the Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> inched up just 0.80 of a
point, or 0.02 percent, to close at 4,038.00.
In the Fed's Beige Book, a collection of anecdotes from the central
bank's business contacts across the nation, the Fed said employers
had stepped up hiring in some parts of the country in October and
early November, and the economy had expanded at a "modest to
Other signs of strength in the economy were figures showing that the
U.S. trade deficit narrowed in October and new home sales recorded
their biggest increase in nearly 33 1/2 years in October. The home
sales report suggested that the housing market's recovery remains
intact despite higher mortgage rates. Shares of KB Home <KBH.N> rose
1.1 percent to $17.26.
[to top of second column]
But the economic picture was muddied after the Institute for Supply
Management said its services index fell to 53.9 last month from 55.4
in October. A forecast called for a November reading of 55.0. A
figure above 50 signifies expansion.
U.S. crude oil futures prices advanced 1.2 percent, up for a fourth
straight day as government data showed an unexpected drop in U.S.
stockpiles. Crude is up 5.3 percent over the past four sessions.
Shares of Marathon Oil <MRO.N> rose 1.4 percent to $36.74. The stock
of Hess Corp <HES.N> added 1.3 percent to $82.21.
Among decliners, shares of clothing retailer Express Inc <EXPR.N>
tumbled 23 percent to $19 after the company forecast quarterly
earnings below analysts' estimates because of weaker-than-expected
OmniVision Technologies Inc <OVTI.O> slid 2.9 percent to $15.52
after the chipmaker forecast current-quarter revenue well below
After the market closed, Aeropostale Inc <ARO.N> fell 3.6 percent to
$9.01 following the release of its third-quarter results. The stock
ended regular trading at $9.36, down 3.9 percent.
Oculus Innovative Sciences Inc <OCLS.O> shares surged 103.4 percent
to $4.74 after the company got the go-ahead from the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration for its anti-scar gel.
About 6.54 billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms, according to
BATS exchange data.
[By Ryan Vlastelica © 2013 Thomson
Reuters. All rights reserved.]
(Editing by Jan Paschal)
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