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Overnight Markets: Budget standoff weighs on U.S. stocks

Overnight Markets: Budget standoff weighs on U.S. stocks

U.S. stocks inched lower on Thursday, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index snapping a six-day advance, as worries over standoff in Washington's "fiscal cliff" negotiations overshadowed a decline in jobless claims and a rebound in retail sales.

The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 75 points, or 0.56%, to 13,171 at the close. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell nine points, or 0.63%, to 1,419. The Nasdaq Composite Index slid 22 points, or 0.72%, to end at 2,992.

Concerns intensified on the drawn-out budget talks after Republican House Speaker John Boehner accused President Barack Obama of "slow walking" the economy off the fiscal cliff, prompting some selling on Thursday.

Sending some positive signals, economic data showed applications for jobless benefits fell by 29,000 to 343,000 in the week ended 8 December. Separately, retail sales in the U.S. rose in November as demand for automobiles rebounded and holiday shoppers snapped up electronics and clothes.

Energy and information technology sectors suffered the most. Shares of Nabors Industries Ltd dropped 4.7% after Jefferies cut the drilling company's rating. U.S. refining company Phillips 66 lost 1.6% on plans to raise as much as $400 million in an initial public offering for a minority interest in some of its pipeline and logistics assets.

Apple's shares were down 1.7%, weighing the most on the Nasdaq yesterday, after a U.S. jury found that the company’s iPhone infringed three patents owned by MobileMedia Ideas. International Business Machines fell 0.5% and was the biggest drag on the Dow.

Best Buy Co was among the day's biggest gainers climbing 15.9% after a report that the company's founder is expected to offer to buy the consumer electronics retailer by the end of the week.

After the bell, shares of Adobe Systems Inc added 5.8% after the company posted a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit.

CVS Caremark Corp. climbed 2% after forecasting profit that beat estimates.

In Asia, stocks oscillated between gains and losses on Friday in morning trade as surveys showed China’s manufacturing may accelerate this month while pessimism among Japanese producers rose.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.1% to 127 as of 11:51 a.m. Tokyo time. Japan’s Nikkie was down 0.095. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.2%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.5%, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index jumped 2.9%. Korea’s Kospi Index was down 0.5%.

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