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US stocks fall as market awaits retail sales data

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on December 6, 2013
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on December 6, 2013

US stocks Tuesday ended somewhat lower as investors looked ahead to a retail sales report that covers the beginning of the critical holiday shopping season.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 51.50 (0.32 percent) to 15,974.03.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 5.75 (0.32 percent) to 1,802.62, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index declined 8.26 (0.20 percent) to 4,060.49.

Tuesday's losses came on a fairly quiet day for economic news, said Michael James, managing director at Wedbush Securities. James said the major economic report of the week would be Thursday's data on November monthly retail sales.

The commentary has been "somewhat negative" on the holiday season so far, James said. "Is the data going to perpetuate the negative trend?" he said. "Or are we going to get a glimmer of hope that maybe things aren't as bad as they seem anecdotally?"

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