Stocks Open Lower amid Earnings Jitters

Stocks declined at the open on Tuesday as investors worried over the ongoing debate in Washington over raising the debt ceiling and ahead of what is expected to be a lackluster earnings season.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 35.40 points, or 0.26%, to 13,471.92. The S&P 500 index shed 5.69 points, or 0.39%, to 1,464.99. The Nasdaq Composite declined 21.52 points, or 0.69%, to 3,095.98.

Retail sales rose solidly in December as Americans shrugged off the threat of higher taxes and bought automobiles and a range of other goods, suggesting momentum in consumer spending as the year ended. Retail sales increased 0.5 percent after rising 0.4 percent in November, the Commerce Department said.

Lennar Corp (NYSE: LEN) ‘s quarterly profit handily beat Wall Street expectations and the homebuilder reported a seventh straight jump in new home orders, indicating that a U.S. housing recovery is well on track. Net income rose to $124.3 million, or 56 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, from $30.3 million, or 16 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 42 percent to $1.3 billion.

The number of U.S. families struggling with poverty despite parents being employed continued to grow in 2011 as more people returned to work but mostly at lower-paying service jobs, an analysis released on Tuesday shows.

Lululemon Athletica Inc. raised its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings guidance on Monday, after a strong holiday shopping season. Lululemon expects to earn 74 cents per share for the quarter that ends Feb. 3. It anticipates revenue will be at the high end of its original guidance range of $475 million to $480 million.

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