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US stocks sink under fiscal cliff worries

Dec 14 2012 07:51 AFP

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New York - US stocks closed lower on Thursday under a cloud of fiscal cliff concerns that overshadowed a batch of somewhat positive economic data on jobs, retail sales and inflation.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 74.73 points to 13,170.72.

The broad-market S&P 500 retreated 9.03 to 1,419.45, after six days of gains, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 21.65 to 2,992.16.

The indexes spent most of the day in negative territory amid concerns about the imminent fiscal cliff of sharp tax hikes and spending cuts due to take effect on January 1 unless a political compromise is reached.

But stocks pared declines in the final hour of trade after media reports said President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner would meet at the White House in an effort to break the impasse.

Sprint Nextel, the third-largest US wireless carrier, slipped 0.4% after announcing an offer to buy the shares it does not already own of Clearwire, up 14.9%.

Apple fell 1.7% after Google Maps returned to its iPhone, allowing users to replace a glitch-ridden Apple map program. Google rose 0.7%. Struggling electronics retailer Best Buy jumped 15.9%. Founder Richard Schulze will try to take the company private by Saturday, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported, citing an unidentified source.

Research in Motion added 4.1% after announcing that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency will test its new BlackBerry 10, due to be launched January 30 - after the agency dropped BlackBerry phones for Apple's iPhone in November.

Solar company SolarCity sizzled in its market debut, up 47.4% at $11.79. The initial public offering stocks were priced at $8.00

Caterpillar climbed 0.5% after announcing it would accelerate its dividend payment to this month, the latest company taking the action to protect shareholders against 2013 tax increases.

Bond prices were mixed. The 10-year US Treasury yield rose to 1.73% from 1.70% late on Wednesday, while the 30-year was unchanged at 2.90%.

Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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