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Stocks Drift a Bit Lower               08/14 09:36

   Stocks are drifting a bit lower in early Friday trading on Wall Street after 
a report showed that sales for U.S retailers strengthened again last month, but 
by less than economists expected.

   NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are drifting a bit lower in early Friday trading on 
Wall Street after a report showed that sales for U.S retailers strengthened 
again last month, but by less than economists expected.

   The S&P 500 was down 0.1%, as the market takes a pause after nearly erasing 
the last of the steep losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In each of the 
two prior days, the index briefly crossed above its record closing high, which 
was set in February, and it's now 0.5% below the record.

   More stocks across Wall Street were falling than rising, but the moves were 
mostly modest. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 64 points, or 0.2%, at 
27,830, as of 10:08 a.m. Eastern time, while the Nasdaq composite dipped 0.2%.

   Consumer spending is the main locomotive for the U.S. economy, so investors 
paid close attention to the report showing that sales at grocery stores, gas 
stations and other retailers rose 1.2% last month from June. It's the third 
straight month of gains, following a gargantuan plunge in the spring, but it 
was a sharp slowdown from the 8.4% growth in the prior month. It also fell 
short of the 2% growth that economists were expecting.

   Economists say consumer spending could be under more pressure going forward 
after several U.S. government programs to aid the economy expired, including 
$600 in extra unemployment benefits each week. Investors say it's crucial that 
Washington deliver another lifeline to the economy, and markets seem to be 
assuming a deal will happen.

   But Democrats and Republicans say they remain far apart on a possible 
compromise.

   Treasury yields also slowed their big jump from earlier in the week. The 
yield on the 10-year Treasury dipped to 0.70% from 0.71% late Thursday. It had 
been at 0.57% just on Monday. It climbed through the week after a couple 
reports on inflation came in higher than expected and after the U.S. Treasury 
auctioned off more bonds to help cover the government's huge deficit.

   In Europe, stocks trended lower after Britain said it was imposing a 14-day 
quarantine on travelers from France, which said it would respond in kind. 
Tourism and travel stocks were hit particularly hard, such as budget airlines 
easyJet and IAG.

   France's CAC 40 dropped 1.8%, while Germany's DAX lost 0.9%. The FTSE 100 in 
London fell 1.8%.

   Asian markets were mixed after China reported its factory output rose 4.8% 
in July from a year earlier, on par with June's increase. Retail sales fell 
1.1%, as consumers remain cautious.

   Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.2%, and South Korea's Kospi slipped 
1.2%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 0.2% after gyrating earlier in the day, 
while stocks in Shanghai gained 1.2%.

   Benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped a penny to $42.23 per barrel. Brent crude, 
the international standard was down 0.1% at $44.91.

 
 
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