Stocks Fall as Retailers Slump

U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday for the third trading day in a row as disappointing holiday sales weighed heavy on retail companies. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 24.49 points, or 0.19%, to 13,114.59. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 6.83 points, or 0.48%, to 1,419.83 and the Nasdaq composite lost 22.44 points, or 0.74%, to 2,990.16.

The 2012 holiday season may have been the worst for retailers since the financial crisis, with sales growth far below expectations, forcing many to offer massive post-Christmas discounts in hopes of shedding excess inventory.Retail sales grew by 0.7 percent from Oct. 28 through Dec. 24, the Purchase, New York, 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.

Efforts to save the nation from going over a year-end “fiscal cliff” were in disarray as lawmakers fled the Capitol for their Christmas break. “God only knows” how a deal can be reached now, House Speaker John Boehner declared.

Single-family home prices rose in October for nine months in a row, reinforcing the view the domestic real estate market is improving and should bolster the economy in 2013. The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas gained 0.7 percent in October on a seasonally adjusted basis, stronger than the 0.5 percent rise forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

The dollar hit a two-year high against the yen as a new government prepares to assume leadership in Japan. The dollar rose as high as 85.72 Japanese yen, its highest point against the yen since Sept. 21, 2010.

Marvell Technology Group (WDC) was found guilty of infringing two patents held by Carnegie Mellon University and ordered to pay $1.17 billion in damages in a jury verdict on Wednesday in federal court.

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