U.S. stocks decline as retailers slump amid budget deadline

Home Prices

U.S. home prices climbed in the year to October by the most in more than two years as the real-estate market rebounds and contributes to the U.S. economic recovery. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities increased 4.3 percent from October 2011, the group said today in New York. The median forecast of 30 economists in a Bloomberg survey projected a 4 percent gain.

U.S. holiday sales growth slowed by more than half this year after gridlock in Washington soured consumers’ moods and Hurricane Sandy disrupted shopping, MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse said.

Retail sales grew by 0.7 percent from Oct. 28 through Dec. 24, the research firm said yesterday, without providing a dollar figure in the billions. Sales grew at a 2 percent pace in the same period a year ago. SpendingPulse tracks total U.S. sales at stores and online via all payment forms.

Light Trading

“The good news was that the Case-Shiller numbers were pretty good,” Armiger said. “It looked like housing prices bumped up a couple percent, but it’s a light trading, light volume week. The offset is Christmas spending was less robust than people were expecting, so that’s a bit of a downer. We were hoping consumers would spend a little more.”

Discretionary stocks lost 0.8 percent, the most out of 10 groups in the S&P 500. Coach sank 5.4 percent to $54.39 and Ralph Lauren slid 3.3 percent to $146.17. Amazon.com Inc., the world’s largest online retailer, erased 3.5 percent to $249.60.

Technology companies fell 0.5 percent as a group. IPhone and iPad maker Apple declined 1.1 percent to $514.61. Microsoft Corp. lost 0.7 percent to $26.88. EBay Inc., the owner of the world’s largest Internet marketplace, dropped 1.6 percent to $50.25.

Research In Motion Ltd. gained 12 percent, the most intraday since Nov. 23, to $11.87. The beleaguered maker of the BlackBerry smartphone rebounded after erasing a quarter of its market value following last week’s earnings report. While the company raised concerns about declining service fees, investors may have overestimated the impact of the change on earnings per share, Kevin Smithen, an analyst at Macquarie Securities USA Inc. in New York, said today.

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