NEW YORK — U.S. stocks fell for a third straight day on Wednesday, dragged lower by retail stocks after a report showed consumers spent less in the holiday shopping season than last year.
Many investors said concerns about the “fiscal cliff” kept shoppers away from stores, suggesting markets may struggle to gain any ground until that issue is resolved. The CBOE Volatility Index, Wall Street’s favourite barometer of investor anxiety, rose 4.46%, closing above 19 for the first time since November 7.
A number of 2012’s strongest performers advanced, a sign that portfolio managers may be engaging in “window dressing,” a practice where market participants buy securities with big gains to improve the appearance of their holdings before presenting the results to clients. Bank of America Corp, which has more than doubled in 2012, added 2.6% to $11.54 on Wednesday.
Holiday-related sales rose 0.7% from October 28 through December 24…
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