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NARY A SHOPPER WAS SPENDING: Holiday spending has been lower than analysts were expecting. Stocks for major retailers like Amazon.com, Abercrombie & Fitch and Nike fell.

SANTA DROPS THE BALL: It was the third loss in a row for the stock market. Normally stocks go up during the final trading week of the year, the so-called Santa Claus rally.

THE CLIFF APPROACHES: Republicans and Democrats didn't appear to make any progress in hammering out a budget deal. If they miss the Dec. 31 deadline, government spending cuts and higher taxes automatically kick in, a situation known as the "fiscal cliff."