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Investors Await Word on Fiscal Cliff

Gadget chain Best Buy weighs on retail sector.

Stocks largely remained in a holding pattern today, slipping modestly as Wall Street waited for word from Washington on the fiscal cliff.

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) met Thursday to talk about the slate of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that could kick in next month, but there was little outward sign of progress.

The S&P Retailing Industry Group fell 0.6 percent, or 3.90 points, to 651.45 as electronics retailer Best Buy fell 14.7 percent to $12.05. Best Buy’s stock popped Thursday on a report that its founder would make a bid to buy the company, but the firm said no action is expected until next year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3 percent, or 35.71 points, to 13,135.01.

Fashion’s decliners included Quiksilver Inc., which fell 13 percent to$3.54 after the company missed fourth-quarter earnings estimates; Zumiez Inc., down 7 percent to $19.26, and G-III Apparel Group, off 3.9 percent to $32.52.

European markets were sluggish as investors there also kept a wary eye on the U.S. fiscal debate.

The FTSE 100 in London was up 0.1 percent to 5,921.76, while the DAX in Frankfurt advanced 0.2 percent to 7,596.47, and the FTSE MIB in Milan grew just 0.3 percent  to 15,908.09. The CAC 40 in Paris was flat at 3,643.28.

Retail and luxury stocks were mostly up, with the day’s strongest gainers including Mulberry and Swatch, both up 3.6 percent, to 12.25 pounds and 79.55 Swiss francs, respectively. Asos.com climbed 1.4 percent to 25.81 pounds and Compagnie Financière Richemont advanced 0.9 percent to 72.10 Swiss francs.

The decliners included Safilo, down 1.6 percent to 6.28 euros, and Yoox, which dropped 0.6 percent to 11.30 euros. 

The Swiss franc traded at $1.08 versus the dollar, while the euro was valued at $1.31 and the pound at $1.61.