New York Report: Lack of festive cheer sends stocks down

THE DOW and the S&P 500 fell for a third straight day yesterday, dropping from record levels in a broad decline as investors took profits amid signs of a weak holiday shopping season.

Retail and consumer discretionary stocks were among the weakest of the day. Amazon slipped two per cent to $384.66 and was one of the biggest drags on the S&P 500. The S&P retail index shed 0.8 per cent after the holiday shopping season got off to a tepid start.

Earlier-than-usual online holiday discounts were expected to have dampened Cyber Monday sales in the US. Still, data firm comScore forecast US online sales to have hit $2bn on Cyber Monday, the highest since the firm began tracking such information.

“Retail sales have been mixed, and while I suspect they will be strong overall at the end of the season, right now, investors are looking for reasons to sell after the amazing returns we’ve seen over the past several weeks,” said Joseph Tanious at JP Morgan Asset Management.

Equities have rallied recently, with the S&P 500 gaining for eight straight weeks and hitting a series of record highs. The benchmark index is up 25.9 per cent so far this year.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 94.15 points, or 0.59 per cent, to end at 15,914.62. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index declined 5.75 points, or 0.32 per cent, to finish at 1,795.15. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 8.06 points, or 0.2 per cent, to close at 4,037.20.

Ford Motor shares slid 2.9 per cent, meanwhile, and General Motors fell 2.5 per cent.