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Overnight Markets: Wall Street declines on Fed bets after data

Overnight Markets: Wall Street declines on Fed bets after data

Wall Street declined on Thursday, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index registering a one-month low, as upbeat economic data added to signs the economy is strong enough for the Federal Reserve to begin cutting the monetary stimulus.

The Dow Jones industrial average declined 104 points or 0.66%, to end at 15,739. The S&P 500 lost seven points or 0.38%, to finish at 1,776. The Nasdaq Composite dropped five points or 0.14%, to close at 3,998.

Shares also declined due to profit-taking, with investors offloading some stocks to lock in gains from this year's rally.

Data today showed retail sales increased more than forecast in November as Americans bought cars and took advantage of discounts going into the holiday-shopping season. A separate report indicated applications for unemployment benefits jumped last week from an almost three-month low. The Fed's policy-setting committee is scheduled to meet for the last time this year on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Facebook (FB.O), however, closed at its highest since 25 October a day after it was selected to join the S&P 500 index. The social network's stock jumped 5% to end at $51.83 and helped cap the Nasdaq's loss.

Lululemon Athletica Inc (LULU.O) shares fell 11.7% after the yoga apparel company said fewer customers are visiting its stores and supply-chain issues are hitting sales in the crucial fourth quarter.

Oracle Corp. dropped 2.8% after RBC Capital Markets LLC lowered its rating on the stock.

Markets were also abuzz with a flurry of initial public offerings, including Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc (HLT.N). The stock rose 7.5% to close at $21.50 in its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The IPO was priced at $20 a share.

Food services provider Aramark Holdings Corp (ARMK.N) staged a more impressive debut, up 13.5%.

Shares of J.C. Penney (JCP.N) gained 0.8% after chief executive Mike Ullman told Reuters that the department store chain is eliminating some high-profile brands introduced by former CEO Ron Johnson.

In Asia, shares declined on Friday in late morning trade as improving US economic data boosted bets the Fed will reduce stimulus as early as next week.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.4% to 138 as of 10:42 a.m. in Hong Kong. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.4%. South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.6% and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index lost 0.2%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index retreated 0.3%, while China’s Shanghai Composite lost 0.4%. Singapore’s Straits Times Index fell 0.6% and Taiwan’s Taiex Index added 0.1%.

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