(By Balachander) U.S. stocks closed on a mixed note as investors await the results of a third meeting of European officials over a debt-reduction package for Greece and worries over the looming "fiscal cliff" weighed on the sentiment.
The S&P 500 Index shed 0.20 percent to end at 1,406.29. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 12,967.37, down 0.33 percent. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.33 percent to close at 2,976.78.
Eurozone officials met in Brussels for another round of talks on Greece, after they failed to reach an agreement in two meetings this month.
President Obama has pushed for higher taxes on wealthy Americans to address the fiscal cliff of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases that could hit economic growth.
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On Monday, a new analysis by the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) finds that consumers could spend nearly $200 billion less than they otherwise would have in 2013 just because of higher taxes. Allowing the middle-class tax rates to rise and failing to patch the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) could cut the growth of real consumer spending by 1.7 percentage points in 2013.
There were no major domestic economic reports due on Monday and retailers were in focus after the holiday shopping weekend.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that shoppers who visited retail stores over Black Friday weekend grew 9.3 percent from last year. The average holiday shopper spent $423 this weekend, up from $398 last year. NRF estimates total spending at $59.1 billion.
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Online holiday spending to date in 2012 grew 17 percent amid aggressive retailer promotions, according to a report from COMSCORE Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR).
Over the coming week, a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the Fed's Beige Book, a set of housing data, the weekly jobless claims data, consumer confidence index and monthly personal income and spending data are keenly awaited.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: AAPL, FB, YHOO, ARO, KCG
In corporate news, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) added 3.15 percent. Citigroup (C) initiated coverage of the technology behemoth with a "Buy" rating and a price target of $675.
Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) added 1.00 percent. Goldman Sachs (GS) added the Internet company to its conviction buy list.
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) surged 8.09 percent. Bernstein upgraded its rating on the stock to "Outperform" from "Market Perform".
Aeropostale Inc. (NYSE: ARO) retreated 4.71 percent. Janney Capital downgraded its rating on the stock to "Neutral" from "Buy".
Knight Capital Group Inc. (NYSE: KCG) surged 13.25 percent. The financial services company is in discussions about possibly selling its biggest and most-profitable business, the Wall Street Journal reported, cited people briefed on the discussions.
European markets ended in red, with Germany's DAX losing 0.23 percent to close at 7,292.03. France's CAC40 fell 0.79 percent to finish at 3,500.94. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 dropped 0.56 percent to end at 5,786.72.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index declined 0.49 percent to finish at 2,017.46. Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.24 percent to finish at 9,388.94. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.24 percent to end at 21,861.81. India's BSE Sensex ended at 18,537.01, up 0.16 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Crude oil futures fell 0.61 percent to $87.74 per barrel, and natural gas futures dropped 4.18 percent to $3.74 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures dipped 0.14 percent to $1,748.9 per ounce and silver futures slid 0.03 percent to $34.20 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro lost 0.02 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2970. The British pound edged 0.01 percent lower against the greenback to 1.6028, while the dollar lost 0.44 percent against the Japanese yen at 82.0300.