(By Balachander) U.S. stocks extended declines to end in the red, weighed by weak forecast from Wal-Mart and a set of disappointing economic reports amid lingering concerns about the looming fiscal cliff.
The S&P 500 Index shed 0.16 percent to end at 1,353.33. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 12,542.46, down 0.23 percent. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.35 percent to close at 2,836.94.
President Barack Obama pushed for higher taxes on wealthy Americans to address the so-called fiscal cliff of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases that could hit economic growth. Obama is set to hold talks with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders on Friday.
The number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits jumped more than forecast last week, a government report showed. Jobless claims increased 78,000 to 439,000 for the week ended Nov. 10 from a revised 361,000, while economists projected 375,000 applications.
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Another report showed that core consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in October, and the headline index inched up 0.1 percent. Economists expected prices to rise 0.1 percent.
The New York Federal Reserve's empire state manufacturing index for November rose to -5.2 from -6.2 in October, also coming in better than economists expectations of a reading of -6.7.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's manufacturing index sank to -10.7 for November from -5.7 in October.
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In corporate news, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) shed 3.63 percent after the world's largest retail chain store operator offered downbeat guidance for the fourth quarter following higher third-quarter earnings.
NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ: NTAP) surged 11.20 percent after the provider of storage systems reported stonger-than-forecast second-quarter earnings.
Dollar Tree Inc. (NASDAQ: DLTR) added 5.14 percent after the operator of discount variety stores posted higher earnings and sales for the third quarter.
TransDigm Group Inc. (NYSE: TDG) retreated 4.36 percent after the supplier of aircraft components issued a downbeat earnings view for the full year.
Children's Place Retail Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: PLCE) lost 14.19 percent after the children's specialty apparel retailer guided fourth quarter earnings below Wall Street expectations.
Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) added 1.73 percent after the discount chain posted a 15 percent increase in quarterly earnings, helped by higher sales and a sales gain and it guided fourth-quarter above consensus.
Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: ROST) fell 1.35 percent after the off-price retail apparel company said third-quarter profit and sales increased 11 percent.
Williams-Sonoma Inc. (NYSE: WSM) lost 3.66 percent after the retailer of home products guided 2012 earnings that trailed market expectations.
Diamond Foods Inc. (NASDAQ: DMND) slumped 21.23 percent after the maker of Emerald snack nuts posted its restated financial results.
Hot Topic Inc. (NASDAQ: HOTT) jumped 5.72 percent after the Web-based specialty retailer posted better-than-expected earnings for the third quarter.
DryShips Inc. (NASDAQ: DRYS) tumbled 19.71 percent after the ocean transportation services company posted a wider-than-forecast quarterly loss as operating expenses jumped.
Tranzyme Inc. (NASDAQ: TZYM) plunged 76.12 percent after the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company said its diabetic gastroparesis drug candidate failed in a mid-stage study.
European markets ended lower after a data showed the euro zone entered a recession in the third quarter. Germany's DAX dropped 0.82 percent to close at 7,043.42. France's CAC40 fell 0.52 percent to finish at 3,382.40. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 retreated 0.77 percent to end at 5,677.75.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index lost 1.22 percent to finish at 2,030.29. Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.90 percent to end at 8,829.72. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index retreated 1.55 percent to end at 21,108.93. India's BSE Sensex ended at 18,471.37, down 0.79 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Crude oil futures dropped 1.00 percent to $85.46 per barrel, and natural gas futures declined 1.70 percent to $3.70 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures shed 0.92 percent to $1,714.2 per ounce and silver futures fell 1.02 percent to $32.55 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro rose 0.27 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2771. The British pound added 0.09 percent against the greenback to 1.5856, and the dollar jumped 1.16 percent against the Japanese yen at 81.1800.