US stocks close lower

Wall Street pulled back today after investors were largely unimpressed by retail sales figures and strong profit reports from Walt Disney and Electronic Data Systems.

Wall Street pulled back today after investors were largely unimpressed by retail sales figures and strong profit reports from Walt Disney and Electronic Data Systems. Weakness in housing stocks also weighed on the market.

Investors appeared to be looking for a major catalyst to send stocks higher after days of largely meandering trading, but they did not find it in generally decent retail sales reports.

Asda owner Wal-Mart Stores, the world’s largest retailer, topped Wall Street’s forecast, although the month’s increase was modest.

“A lot of consumers didn’t do what people had hoped for in January,” said Ryan Detrick, an analyst at Schaeffer’s Investment Research in Cincinnati.

“No one really missed a lot. There wasn’t anyone that was really blowing up, but overall the market took it negatively,” he said of the retailers.

“At the same time, the market has been going up and we’re due for a sell.”

A weak forecast from Toll Brothers, the largest US builder of luxury homes, put pressure on housing stocks and rekindled concerns about whether the slumping housing market would hurt the economy.

The Dow industrials fell 29.24, or 0.23%, to 12,637.63.

Broader stock indicators were also down. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 1.71, or 0.12%, at 1,448.31, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 1.83, or 0.07%, to 2,488.67.

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