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US shares on track for fifth day of losses

The major US stock indices have slid into the red yet again, as budgetary strife in Washington and a negative news story about Wal-Mart have helped to unnerve investors.

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The Dow Jones dropped 0.21% or 32 points to 15,301 by the last hour of trading on Wall Street, while the S&P 500 moved down 0.07% to 1696.2.

One of the biggest decliners in the Dow was Wal-Mart, which fell over 1% after Bloomberg published a report claiming the retailing giant is cutting back on certain orders on account of a backlog of inventory.

Shares in the company dropped as much as 3% in the direct aftermath of the report, but losses were pared as the afternoon progressed in New York. A spokesperson for Wal-Mart said the story was misleading.

The stock market had a very strong run over the first half of the month and at some point investors were always going to stop to take stock of the situation. In such a transitional period, the market is susceptible to bad news, and the shadow cast by the fiscal deadlock in Washington has proved to be enough to press markets lower.

Economic news was mixed today, with new home sales bouncing in August, but durable goods orders tending to correspond with yesterday’s disappointing manufacturing PMI. Excluding the volatile component of transportation, durable goods orders declined 0.1% last month. Durable goods tends to be fairly capricious month to month, but along with the PMI and some regional surveys, the suggestion is that manufacturing is looking soft.

Tomorrow we have US second-quarter GDP data along with weekly jobless claims.

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