* Apple weighs on indexes in third straight session of
* Debt ceiling debate, earnings worries hurt sentiment
* December retail sales suggest stronger consumer spending
* Indexes down: Dow 0.11 pct, S&P 0.17 pct, Nasdaq 0.46 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Jan 15 U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday on
continued selling of tech heavyweight Apple and concerns over
the brewing fight in Washington over raising the U.S. debt
Apple fell for the third day in a row as the
biggest drag on both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 after
reports on Monday of cuts to orders for iPhone parts. Apple was
down nearly 3 percent at $487.50 after hitting a session low of
$485.60, its lowest level since February.
A government report that retail sales rose more than
expected in December was seen as a favorable sign for
fourth-quarter growth and helped to limit losses. However, a
separate report showed manufacturing activity in New York state
contracted for the sixth month in a row in January.
Stocks' decline is "in part the result of the weight that
Apple has on the market overall, particularly the indexes. It
also has a large impact on investor psychology because it has
been such a darling and such an overperformer," said Peter
Kenny, Managing Director at Knight Capital in Jersey City, New
"But the market is shifting some of their focus towards the
data release regarding U.S. retail sales where we got a lot more
clarity on today."
On Monday, President Barack Obama rejected any negotiations
with Republicans over raising the U.S. debt ceiling. The United
States could default on its debt if Congress does not increase
the borrowing limit.
Resolving the debt ceiling debate is more a question of how
than if. Investors don't expect a U.S. default, but they are
also wary of another eleventh-hour agreement like the one in
"If you were to look at a hurdle, the easiest one to look at
is the debt ceiling because it's really going to underscore and
underline with bold ink this protracted, institutionalized
political battle in Washington," Kenny said.
The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 14.45 points,
or 0.11 percent, to 13,492.87. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
shed 2.47 points, or 0.17 percent, to 1,468.21. The
Nasdaq Composite Index lost 14.25 points, or 0.46
percent, to 3,103.25.
An expected lackluster earnings season also kept investors
from taking aggressive bets. Analyst estimates for the quarter
have fallen sharply since October. S&P 500 earnings growth is
now seen up just 1.8 percent from a year ago, Thomson Reuters
Homebuilder Lennar reported a sharp rise in
quarterly profit, but the stock fell 1.8 percent to $40.30 on
worries that growth in orders was slowing. The PHLX housing
sector index edged down 0.09 percent.
Express Inc surged 20.8 percent to $16.99 as the
biggest percentage gainer on the New York Stock Exchange after
the apparel retailer raised its fourth-quarter and full year
Shares of Dell rose 1.3 percent to $12.45 the day
after sources said the company is in talks with private equity
firms on a potential buyout.
Facebook added 0.8 percent to $31.18 ahead of a major
news event at its headquarters. The secretive nature of the
event has triggered a guessing game about what the company could