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Stocks slip on Fed, US consumer worries
Stocks fall as investors worry about Fed winding down stimulus and weak US consumer spending
By KEN SWEET
Associated Press
2013-12-03 11:42 PM

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks were slightly lower in early trading Tuesday as investors continued to worry about the Federal Reserve winding down its economic stimulus program and weak consumer spending in the U.S.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 43 points, or 0.3 percent, to 15,966 in the first 30 minutes of trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,799 and the Nasdaq composite was flat at 4,045.

Stocks that depend heavily on consumer spending had some of the biggest losses in early trading. GameStop, the video game retailer, sank $1.83, or 4 percent, to $45.12, the worst decline in the S&P 500 index.

If the market closes lower, it would be the first three-day losing streak in two months.

Investors are waiting for several economic reports later this week that could influence whether the Fed will pare back its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program, which is designed to keep interest rates low and stimulate the economy.

On Friday, the government will release its monthly job market survey, one of the most closely watched indicators of the U.S. economy. Economists expect that employers created 180,000 jobs last month while the unemployment rate remained steady at 7.2 percent, according to FactSet, a financial information provider.

On Thursday investors will have other important economic news to consider, an updated report on U.S. economic growth. Economists expect the economy expanded at a 3.2 percent annual rate last quarter.

A key worry for investors these days is how willing U.S. consumers are to spend, especially with the holiday shopping season getting underway.

The National Retail Federation said Monday that a record number of consumers went shopping over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend. However, the average amount spent by each shopper fell compared with the same period last year, the first decline since the trade group began tracking the figures in 2006.

In company news:

Yum Brands fell $2.04, or 3 percent, to $75.65. The owner of KFC and Taco Bell said sales in China, a key market for the company, have been sluggish lately on concerns about food safety.

Abercrombie & Fitch rose $1.22, or 4 percent, to $35.25. The stock of the teen clothing store owner rose after an activist shareholder, Engaged Capital, sent a letter to the company calling for the replacement of Chief Executive Officer Michael Jeffries, citing underperformance.

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