(By Balachander) U.S. stocks ended in red weighed by a report that showed an unexpected contraction in U.S. manufacturing activity last month.
The S&P 500 Index shed 0.47 percent to end at 1,409.46. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.46 percent to finish at 12,966.14. The Nasdaq Composite Index retreated 0.27 percent to close at 3,002.20.
The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) declined in November to lowest in 3 years to 49.5 from 51.7 in October, while economists expected a reading of 51.3. A reading below 50 indicates a contraction.
Also, investors continue to remain concerned over whether lawmakers in Washington will be able to reach a deal to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff". President Barack 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.
Construction spending increased 1.4 percent in October, a report showed, coming in sharper than expectations of a gain of 0.4 percent.
Meanwhile, China's PMI rose to 50.6 in November, a seven-month high, from 50.2 in October, surveys by the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing and the National Bureau of Statistics showed.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: DELL, AMD, SVU, CSC, EFX, DF, SXC, QLGC
In corporate news, Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) jumped 4.36 percent. Goldman Sachs (GS) upgraded its rating on the stock to "buy" from "sell".
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) rallied 7.27 percent. Some investors bet that the company's largest shareholder could help avert a cash shortfall, Bloomberg reported.
SuperValu Inc. (NYSE: SVU) jumped 12.61 percent amid reports that private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management is willing to pursue options for the grocery chain.
Computer Sciences Corp. (NYSE: CSC) rose 3.18 percent after the company agreed to sell its credit services business for $1 billion in cash to Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX). EFX shares added 4.18 percent.
Dean Foods Co. (NYSE: DF) gained 2.22 percent after the food and beverage company agreed to sell its Morningstar Foods division to Canada's Saputo Inc. for $1.45 billion to "sharpen" its focus on the conventional dairy business.
SunCoke Energy Inc. (NYSE: SXC) tumbled 8.43 percent after the coal producer said it is delaying the initial public offering of a master limited partnership, citing weak market.
QLogic Corp. (NASDAQ: QLGC) lost 7.59 percent. Goldman Sachs downgraded its rating on the stock to "sell" from "neutral".
European markets ended modestly higher, with Germany's DAX up 0.40 percent to close at 7,435.21. France's CAC40 added 0.26 percent to finish at 3,566.59. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 inched up 0.08 percent to end at 5,871.24.
Asian markets ended mixed, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index down 1.03 percent to finish at 1,959.77. Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.13 percent to finish at 9,458.18. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index retreated 1.19 percent to end at 21,767.85. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,305.32, down 0.18 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Crude oil futures rose 0.09 percent to $88.99 per barrel, and natural gas futures jumped 1.01 percent to $3.60 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures added 0.37 percent to $1,719.1 per ounce and silver futures gained 1.36 percent to $33.73 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro added 0.53 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3055. The British pound rose 0.47 percent against the greenback to 1.6088, while the dollar slid 0.28 percent against the Japanese yen to 82.2500.