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Stocks close lower after weak retail reports

Nov. 16, 2012 @ 12:15 AM

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock indexes closed lower Thursday, a third straight decline, after U.S. retailers issued weak forecasts for earnings and more people filed claims for unemployment benefits.

Wal-Mart, Ross Stores and Limited Brands, the owner of Victoria's Secret, all fell after issuing forecasts that disappointed financial analysts. Wal-Mart fell $2.59, or 3.6 percent, to $68.72.

The Dow Jones industrial average wavered between small gains and losses shortly after the opening bell, then moved lower at midmorning. It closed down 28.57 points at 12,542.38.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 2.17 points to 1,353.32 and the Nasdaq composite finished 9.87 points lower at 2,836.94.

Stocks have fallen steadily since voters returned President Barack Obama and a divided Congress to power. The Dow has lost 5 percent from Election Day, Nov. 6.

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