Stocks Started Lower as Fiscal Cliff Remained Unresolved

U.S. stocks started lower on Monday on continued worry legislators will be unable to reach a deal to avert the “fiscal cliff.” The Dow Jones industrial average lately dropped 38.73 points, or 0.29 percent, to 13,152.11. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped 4.42 points, or 0.31 percent, to 1,425.73. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 10.40 points, or 0.34 percent, to 3,010.61.

Christmas shoppers thronged malls and pounced on discounts but apparently spent less this year, their spirits dampened by concerns about the economy and the aftermath of shootings and storms.

Oil futures traded marginally lower on Monday, with trading quiet ahead of the Christmas holiday. Crude oil for February delivery (NMN:CLG3)  slipped 21 cents, or 0.2%, to $88.45 a barrel in electronic trading.

Chevron Corp. is buying into two shale-gas fields in western Canada and a facility to ship that gas to Asian buyers, as the efforts to export North America’s natural-gas resources speed up.

Fortress co-founder Robert Kauffman is retiring, effective immediately, from the private-equity and hedge-fund group and cashing out his shares for $180 million.

Google Inc. (US:goog) is designing a new phone, dubbed X Phone, to take on competitors Apple Inc. (US:aapl) and Samsung in the smartphone market, a media report said Friday.

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