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Wall-Mart Rumors Drag Stocks Lower

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Wall-Mart Rumors Drag Stocks Lower

Stocks in the US started the session mixed despite slightly better than expected economic data.  The S&P 500 index had declined for 4 straight trading sessions, and at the open threatened a 5th. Technology stocks continue to be the best performing sector with Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) leading the charge higher.  European stocks were under pressure despite better than expected German economic data.  Stocks moved lower mid-day and continued to fall ending the session in the red.

European markets got a boost from better than expected German consumer climate data along with a 15 month high in UK retail sales. UK retail sales growth increased to 34, the highest since June 2012, from 27 in August, according to a London-based lobby group. Economists had forecast a drop to 23.

Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE:DUK) has been upgraded by analysts at Argus to a Buy rating from Hold. The price target on the stock was set at $79 a share.

In the US, Durable Orders edged up 0.1% in August, with a focus on strong demand for autos. Economists surveyed by had expected orders to drop 1.5%. Stripping out the transportation sector, orders fell 0.1%, according to the Commerce Department.

Also in US economic news, Home Sales increased 7.9 percent to a 421,000 annualized pace following a 390,000 rate in July that was less than previously estimated, according to the Commerce Department. The median forecast of economists surveyed called for 420,000.

Mid-day stocks reversed gains after Bloomberg released a report the world’s largest retailer Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) was cutting orders it places with suppliers this quarter.

WMT (NYSE:WMT) quickly responded with a company spokesman telling CNBC television the Bloomberg report was “misleading,” explaining the company has hundreds of product categories and that inventory levels change all the time based on consumer demand. The spokesman also called the report “completely false.”

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