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US STOCKS-Retail sales hit Wall St, financials lend support
July 16, 2012 / 6:03 PM / 5 years ago

US STOCKS-Retail sales hit Wall St, financials lend support

* Retail sales unexpectedly fall in June

* Glaxo to buy Human Genome after sweetened $3 billion offer

* Visa at all-time high, Mastercard rises on lawsuit settlement

* Indexes down: Dow 0.37 pct, S&P 0.25 pct, Nasdaq 0.36 pct

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, July 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Monday after data showed an unexpected decline in retail sales for June, but gains in credit card company Visa and other financials helped to limit losses.

Shares of Citigroup gained after the third largest U.S. bank reported profit that came in above analysts’ estimates.

Visa Inc shares hit an all-time high and MasterCard Inc advanced after the credit card companies and banks reached a $7.25 billion settlement with U.S. retailers in a lawsuit late on Friday.

But the drop in retail sales, the third consecutive monthly decrease, contrasted with economists’ expectations for a small increase and was the latest sign the recovery is flagging.

“Three months in a row of lower retail sales is pretty concerning. People are going to have to lower their GDP estimates,” said Paul Zemsky, head of asset allocation at ING Investment Management in New York.

“Given that, I‘m surprised the market is holding so well.”

Zemsky said expectations that earnings turn out better than feared could be one reason.

The S&P 500 is up roughly 7 percent from a low hit early in June despite worsening economic data. Record low U.S. Treasury bond yields and expectations that the Federal Reserve could intervene to support the economy have been cited as reasons for investors to stick with equities.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 47.00 points, or 0.37 percent, to 12,730.09. The S&P 500 Index dropped 3.42 points, or 0.25 percent, to 1,353.36. The Nasdaq Composite lost 10.53 points, or 0.36 percent, to 2,897.94.

The S&P has fallen in seven of the last eight sessions.

The World Trade Organization ruled in favor of the United States in a case alleging a virtual monopoly on China’s electronic payments market, a decision that may help U.S. providers like Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

American Express shares rose 1 percent to $58.51.

Visa rose 2 percent to $126.28 and MasterCard shares gained 1.9 percent to $437.60.

Citigroup shares were up 0.9 percent to $26.90. The results followed those of JPMorgan Chase & Co, which helped ignite a market rally on Friday.

GlaxoSmithKline is to acquire its long-time partner Human Genome Sciences Inc after a sweetened offer of $3 billion, ending a three-month hostile pursuit of the U.S. biotech company on friendly terms after sweetening its offer. Shares of Human Genome rose 4.6 percent to $14.20.

In another healthcare deal, private equity firm TPG said it would buy U.S.-based Par Pharmaceutical for $1.9 billion, sending Par shares up 36.7 percent to $50.

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