(By Balachander) U.S. stocks closed on a negative note amid continued uncertainty about the looming "fiscal cliff".
The S&P 500 Index shed 0.17 percent to end at 1,407.04. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.11 percent to finish at 12,951.70. The Nasdaq Composite Index retreated 0.18 percent to close at 2,996.69.
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 reiterated his push 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.
The White House rejected a "fiscal cliff" proposal from congressional Republicans. "The Republican letter released today does not meet the test of balance," The White House said in a statement on Monday. "In fact, it actually promises to lower rates for the wealthy and sticks the middle class with the bill."
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There were no major U.S. economic data released for the day.
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In corporate news, Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) rose 2.18 percent. The world's largest chip maker announced plans to offer senior unsecured notes under a shelf registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. As of September 29, 2012, Intel disclosed it had roughly $8.0 billion of indebtedness.
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Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI) tumbled 9.58 percent after the full-service restaurant company reduced its sales forecast for 2013. It also forecasts combined U.S. same-restaurant sales for the second quarter to fall roughly 2.7 percent at its three casual dining brands.
IAC/InterActiveCorp. (NASDAQ: IACI) retreated 7.76 percent after Goldman Sachs (GS) downgraded its rating on the stock to "sell" from "neutral".
Big Lots Inc. (NYSE: BIG) surged 11.52 percent after the North American closeout retailer raised its earnings forecast for the full year. The company also announced that Steven Fishman plans to retire from his role as Chairman, CEO and President.
Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (NYSE: EW) jumped 5.76 percent after the company forecast strong double-digit sales and earnings growth in 2013 spurred by the ongoing launch of its SAPIEN transcatheter heart valve in the United States.
MetroPCS Communications Inc. (NYSE: PCS) tumbled 7.43 percent. Reuters reported that Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S) is unlikely to make a counteroffer for the wireless service provider, which agreed to merge with T-Mobile USA Inc. in October.
Pep Boys - Manny, Moe & Jack (NYSE: PBY) declined 10.39 percent after the automotive parts retailer posted quarterly results that missed Wall Street projections.
AutoZone Inc. (NYSE: AZO) shed 2.96 percent after the retailer of automotive replacement parts reported first-quarter sales that trailed market expectations.
Vail Resorts Inc. (NYSE: MTN) plunged 7.90 percent after the company posted a wider quarterly loss and said it will be more difficult to achieve its guidance for growth in Resort Reported EBITDA for fiscal 2013, citing some of the most recent booking trends.
Geron Corp. (NASDAQ: GERN) tumbled 22.97 percent after the company said it discontinued development of GRN1005, its peptide-drug conjugate designed to treat brain cancers. The company also plans to slash 40 percent of jobs and replace its financial chief.
European markets ended mixed, with Germany's DAX closing flat at 7,435.12. France's CAC40 added 0.39 percent to finish at 3,580.48. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 edged down 0.04 percent to end at 5,869.04.
Asian markets ended mixed, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index up 0.78 percent to finish at 1,975.14. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell0.27 percent to finish at 9,432.46. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index inched up 0.15 percent to end at 21,799.97. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,348.12, up 0.22 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Crude oil futures fell 0.77 percent to $88.40 per barrel, and natural gas futures retreated 1.34 percent to $3.54 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures shed 1.31 percent to $1,698.5 per ounce and silver futures tumbled 2.28 percent to $32.99 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro added 0.33 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3097. The British pound rose 0.08 percent against the greenback to 1.6104, while the dollar slid 0.50 percent against the Japanese yen to 81.8400.