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Overnight Markets: Retailers lead Wall Street lower

Overnight Markets: Retailers lead Wall Street lower

U.S. stocks declined on Wednesday as retailers slumped after a report showed holiday shoppers were less enthusiastic than last year and President Barack Obama and Congress prepared to resume budget talks.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 46 points, or 0.35%, to 13,093. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index shed nine points, or 0.60%, to 1,418. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 23 points, or 0.77%, to 2,990.

Retailers slumped after holiday-related sales increased 0.7% from 28 October through 24 December, compared with a 2% increase last year, according to data from MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse.

Macy's and Saks both declined 3%. Online retailer Amazon.com fell 3.1%.

Meanwhile, President Obama will begin his final effort on Thursday to negotiate a deal with Congress to bridge a series of tax increases and government spending cuts set to begin next week.

Economic data showed U.S. single-family home prices increased in October, reinforcing the view that the domestic real estate market is improving. The S&P/Case- Shiller index of property values in 20 cities increased 4.3% from October 2011.

Technology companies fell with Apple Inc., the world’s most valuable company, slipping 1.4%. Microsoft Corp. lost 0.7%. EBay Inc. dropped 1.6%.

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. gained 2% as raw-material stocks advanced amid speculation Japan’s new government will act to bolster the economy. Prices for gold, copper and silver all rose.

Research In Motion Ltd. surged 11% after erasing a quarter of its market value following last week’s earnings report.

In Asia, shares rose on Thursday after the yen touched a 27-month low on prospects for more stimulus and China’s industrial companies’ profit gained.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.6% to 129 at 12:44 p.m. in Tokyo. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 1.4%, heading for the highest close since 10 March 2011, the day before an earthquake and tsunami devastated north eastern Japan and triggered meltdowns at a nuclear power plant.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3% and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.1% in Wellington. South Korea’s Kospi index slid 0.2% while data showed manufacturers’ confidence rebounded and sales at major department stores rose.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.5%, while the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.2%.

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Profile: Kevin Doran's formula for success at AJ Bell

Profile: Kevin Doran's formula for success at AJ Bell

From a degree in theoretical physics to teaching and becoming one of the youngest chief investment officers in the UK, Kevin Doran has certainly had an interesting career.

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