- Dow Jones Industrial Average down 77.42 (-0.62%) to 12,496.38
- S&P 500 down 9.30 (-0.70%) to 1,314.88
- Nasdaq Composite Index down 24.26 (-0.86%) to 2,818.61
- Nikkei 225 Index up 0.60%
- Hang Seng Index up 0.82%
- Shanghai China Composite Index up 1.27%
- FTSE 100 Index up 0.18%
U.S. stocks ended a choppy session lower after a pair of new economic reports had traders fretting about a slowing U.S. economy.
U.S. retail sales fell 0.2% in May, the second straight monthly decline, although the dip was slightly less than the 0.3% decline most experts were expecting. Excluding gasoline purchases, retail spending actually rose last month by 0.1% with strong demand at auto dealers and online retailers helping boost overall spending, according to the Commerce Department.
Lower energy prices also contributed to a 1.0% drop in the U.S. producer price index in May, its largest one-month decline in nearly three years, according to the Labor Department. Analysts surveyed by MarketWatch had predicted a fall of 0.9% for the month. Core producer prices, excluding food and energy, rose 0.2% - matching analysts' expectations. It was the second in a row the headline PPI rate fell, retreating 0.2% in April.
Several Wall Street firms cut their estimates for Q2 U.S. growth following today's retail sales and producer price reports. Bank of America/Merrill Lynch (BAC) lowered its target rate for growth in gross domestic product for the current quarter to 1.9% from a prior 2.4% forecast. RDQ Economics, CIBC World Markets and Macroeconomic Advisers also trimmed their respective growth forecasts, citing weaker retail sales in May and April, a bigger trade deficit and slower growth in business inventories as factors.
The European debt crisis also continues to weigh on global markets. Italy will conduct a bond auction on Thursday, which is being looked to as a key test to determine if the country, Europe's third largest economy, will require a bail-out. Fears have emerged that if Italy were to require a bailout the EU wouldn't be able to provide one.
Commodities ended mixed. July crude fell 0.96% to settle at $82.62 a barrel, giving back all of the previous session's gains. Gold for August delivery rose $5.60, or 0.4%, to settle at $1,619.40 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Stock Exchange. Gold is now up 2% over the past four sessions.
In company news, shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM) climbed as CEO Jamie Dimon testified in front of Congress regarding the company's recent $2-billion trading loss.
Shares of Constant Contact (CTCT) slumped and almost touched their 52-week low, after the company announced that it had acquired privately owned SinglePlatform for approximately $65 million.
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