The final month of a stellar year for stocks began with a thud Monday. All three major indexes closed lower on the first day of trading in December.
Investors sold shares on signs that American shoppers — that seemingly inexhaustible fuel of global economic growth — may hold tight to their cash this holiday season.
Shoppers turned out in record numbers over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, but plunked down less cash than they did last year. It was the first decline in Thanksgiving weekend spending since a retail trade group began tracking it in 2006.
Investors reacted by selling all types of retailer stocks, from department stores to specialty chains. J.C. Penney, Macy's and Target fell about 2 percent each. Urban Outfitters dropped nearly 4 percent.
The Dow fell 77.64 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,008.77.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 4.91 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,800.90.
The Nasdaq composite fell 14.63 points, 0.4 percent, to 4,045.26.
For the year:
The Dow is up 2,904.63 points, or 22.2 percent.
The S&P 500 is up 374.71 points, or 26.3 percent.
The Nasdaq is up 1,025.75 points, or 34 percent.