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Published: Monday, 12/2/2013 - Updated: 4 months ago

U.S. stocks little changed after holiday weekend

Traders weigh weaker holiday sales vs. higher construction spending

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK — Shoppers spent less over the Thanksgiving weekend and that is weighing on stocks.

Shoppers turned out in record numbers over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, but they spent less than they did last year. It was the first decline in Thanksgiving weekend spending since a retail trade group began tracking it in 2006.

Investors pulled out of specialty retailers and chain stores alike. Urban Outfitters fell $1.14, or 2.9 percent, to $37.88. Coach fell $1.31, or 2.3 percent, $56.59. Target fell 83 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $63.10.

“This holiday season is not going to be a gangbuster,” said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist of Sterne Agee. “Retailers are bracing for declining activity from now to the beginning of the year.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up four points, or 0.2 percent, at 1,809 at 12:47 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The Dow Jones industrial average was essentially unchanged at 16,091. The Nasdaq composite also was little changed at 4,061.

Investors sold stocks from the start of trading, but then inched back into the market after the government reported that developers boosted construction spending in October at the fastest pace in more than four years. A separate survey showed that manufacturing activity rose at its fastest pace in 2 ½ years.

The S&P 500 has surged 27 percent this year as the economy maintains a slow but steady recovery and companies continue to grow earnings. Demand for stocks also has been bolstered by Federal Reserve policies that have held down interest rates, making bonds less attractive investments than stocks.

Dow Chemical rose $1.08 cents, or 3 percent, to $40.14. The company said it plans to either sell or spin off about 40 manufacturing plants as it moves away from making cyclical commodities, products whose demand is closely tied to the ebbs and flows of the economy.

In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year note climbed to 2.80 percent, from 2.75 percent. The yield was as low as 1.63 percent in early May.

Among the biggest decliners today were phone companies. Investors typically buy those stocks because the pay big dividends, providing an income. But when interest rates climb investors sell them because that income is less attractive in comparison to higher bond yields.



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