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Stocks Fall in Early Trading

November 30, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks were narrowly lower in early trading Thursday after retailers turned in mixed sales results for November and consumer spending showed its biggest increase in three months in October.

Weighing on investors’ minds was Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s announcement that sales at stores open at least a year, an important retail benchmark known as same-store sales, would likely be flat to up 1 percent in December. The forecast from the world’s largest retailer raised concerns about the health of consumer spending.

In the first hour of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 3.28, or 0.03 percent, to 12,223.45.

Broader stock indicators also fell. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was was down 0.53, or 0.04 percent, at 1,398.95, and the Nasdaq composite index was down 4.82, or 0.20 percent, at 2,427.41.

The Commerce Department reported that consumer spending rose 0.2 percent in October after falling the same amount in September. Wall Street has been concerned about how consumers would reconcile forces such as a cooling housing market and a drop in gas prices from earlier in the year as they head to the malls for holiday shopping.

The consumer spending data appeared to run counter to the news from Wal-Mart. Wall Street has been trying to determine whether the retailer’s difficulties are mostly its own or whether they reflect a broader pullback among consumers.


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