Stocks fall as China raises rates

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The Dow Jones industrial average fell 18.46 points to close at 11,555.03

Stocks in the US fell slightly on Monday as investors focused on strong holiday shopping results and looked past an interest rate hike in China.

Data from MasterCard Advisers’ SpendingPulse survey estimates US retail sales between November 5 and December 24 rose 5.5% from last year. Wall Street is anticipating that Tuesday’s consumer confidence index for December will reflect this optimism.

Also expected is the widely-watched S&P/Case-Shiller house price index for October, which may not capture the exuberance seen in other more recent economic indicators.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day down 18.46 points, or 0.2%, to 11,555.03. The Standard and Poor’s 500 index gained 0.8, or less than 0.1%, to 1,257.54. The Nasdaq composite index rose 1.7 points, also less than 0.1%, to 2,667.27.

Trading was particularly light after a massive blizzard swept the north-east, disrupting commutes for many people in New York’s financial industry. Activity was already expected to be slow in a week sandwiched between the Christmas and New Year holidays.

China’s move over the weekend was the second time in three months that the country took steps to slow the pace of its economic expansion. Inflation jumped to its highest levels in two years in November.

Any slowdown in China affects companies worldwide and can drive a decline in many stock markets. Bank of America estimates that emerging markets like China account for 80% of the world’s economic growth.

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