Retail bump fails to curb a fall on Wall St

US stocks sold off late in the session yesterday, led by a slide in Microsoft shares, though retailers were a notable bright spot after Home Depot raised its outlook.

Microsoft was the most actively traded on Nasdaq, weighing on the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite after the surprising departure of a key executive. The stock fell 3.2 per cent to $27.09.

After the closing bell, Cisco Systems shares rose 6.8 per cent to $18 after it reported quarterly revenue and earnings that beat analysts’ estimates.

Home Depot shares hit during the regular session levels not seen since April 2000 and the company’s raised outlook suggested a revival in the long-dormant US housing market. The S&P retail sector index advanced one per cent.

“Home Depot did say something about housing, which was perceived as positive and was behind the earlier rally,” said Richard Sichel, chief investment officer at Philadelphia Trust Co.

“That was tempered by Microsoft, to some extent, and probably more so by the fiscal cliff,” he said.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 58.90 points, or 0.46 per cent, to 12,756.18 at the close. The S&P 500 dropped 5.50 points, or 0.40 per cent, to 1,374.53. The Nasdaq Composite lost 20.37 points, or 0.70 per cent, to 2,883.89.

TJX, which owns the Marshalls and TK Maxx retail chains, reported results that beat analysts’ forecasts and its shares added 2.7 per cent to $42.06.

Just over 6.2bn shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, below the daily average for November.