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Holiday Sales Decline and Stocks Fall

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Early signs of disappointing holiday sales dragged down the averages on Thursday.

Stocks initially edged higher on some positive signs for the housing market, but then lost ground as shares of retailers sank. Data shows that retailers' sales increased over the past two months leading up to Christmas, but amounted to less than 1 percent.

Trading volume is extremely light because of the holidays. Investors are still awaiting for a resolution to the budget showdown in Washington.

The Dow lost 24 points to close at 13,115. Nasdaq is off 22. The S&P went down 7 points.

Shares of Macy's, Sears and Urban Outfitters all fell.

MasterCard's SpendingPulse says the sales increase for November and December turned out to be just  7 tenths of a percent over last year, the smallest gain since 2008.  But the firm says retailers still have a chance to make up for lost ground, from now until the end of the year.

A recent University of Michigan index showed consumer confidence at a five-month low.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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