* Home Depot shares jump after results, outlook
* Microsoft leads Nasdaq lower after executive exit
* Dow off 0.5 pct, S&P 500 down 0.4 pct, Nasdaq off 0.7 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Nov 13 U.S. stocks sold off late in
the session on Tuesday led by a slide in Microsoft shares,
though retailers were a notable bright spot after Home Depot
raised its outlook.
Microsoft Corp was the most actively traded on
Nasdaq, weighing on the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite after the
surprising departure of a key executive. The stock fell 3.2
percent to $27.09.
Home Depot shares hit levels not seen since April
2000 and the company's raised outlook suggested a revival in the
long-dormant U.S. housing market. The S&P retail sector index
advanced 1 percent.
"Home Depot did say something about housing, which was
perceived as positive and was behind the earlier rally," said
Richard Sichel, chief investment officer at Philadelphia Trust
"That was tempered by Microsoft, to some extent, and
probably more so by the 'fiscal cliff,'" he said.
The S&P 500 is down 2.7 percent so far this month and closed
below its 200-day moving average for a fourth day in a row, a
technical indicator that suggests the recent declines could gain
momentum. The moving average is currently at 1,381.58, and
failure to rise above that level suggests market weakness.
Concerns about the looming "fiscal cliff" kept investor
activity subdued as lawmakers returned to Washington after the
Nov. 6 election, when President Barack Obama won a second term
while Democrats added to their margin in the U.S. Senate and
picked up seats in the House of Representatives.
The market is grappling with how a divided U.S. Congress
will deal with the series of mandated tax hikes and spending
cuts that start to take effect next year and could take the
world's largest economy back into recession. However, serious
negotiations are still weeks away, analysts said.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 58.90 points,
or 0.46 percent, to 12,756.18 at the close. The S&P 500
dropped 5.50 points, or 0.40 percent, to 1,374.53. The Nasdaq
Composite lost 20.37 points, or 0.70 percent, to
Dow component Home Depot Inc raised its full-year
outlook even before accounting for any future lift in sales in
the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, as the retailer benefited
from a recent uptick in the U.S. housing market. Home Depot's
stock rose 3.6 percent to $63.38, its highest close in more than
TJX Cos, which owns the Marshalls and T.J. Maxx
retail chains, reported results that beat analysts' forecasts
and its shares added 2.7 percent to $42.06.
Microsoft shares fell after Steve Sinofsky, head of the
Windows unit, left the company. Sinofsky was considered the
driving force behind Windows, the company's biggest product.
Technology shares led the market's decline, with an S&P
technology index down 0.8 percent.
AK Steel Holding shares fell 17.6 percent to $4.50
after the company forecast a fourth-quarter loss.
About 6.2 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock
Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, below the daily average
during November last year of 7.33 billion shares.
More than two issues fell for every one that rose on both
the NYSE and the Nasdaq.