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Stocks Finish Lower Despite Potential Debt Deal

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks finished in the red Monday amid disappointing manufacturing data and fears that Washington's compromise debt-ceiling agreement may not be enough to prevent a downgrade to the U.S. credit rating.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 11 points, or 0.09%, to close at 12,133. The S&P 500 shed 5 points, or 0.4%, to finish at 1287, and the Nasdaq ended the session 12 points lower, or down by 0.4%, at 2745.

Congress is expected to vote on legislation to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit later Monday. The plan would avert default by raising the government's $14.3 trillion borrowing limit and cut roughly $2.4 trillion from the deficit over the next ten years.

Signs of a resolution of the situation that weighed heavily on stocks all last week led to an early rally in stocks but uncertainty quickly overtook relief as investors worried that the plan wouldn't be enough to satisfy rating agencies.

Concerns intensified after the Congressional Budget Office said that the current debt proposal would not cut spending by as much as initially advertised. The CBO said the deal shaves only $2.1 trillion from the deficit over the next decade, while extending the debt limit by $900 billion in the first round

Disappointing manufacturing data also weighed on investors' minds. Manufacturing activity fell to a reading of 50.9 in July from 55.3 in June, according to the Institute for Supply Management. Economists were expecting activity to continue growing at the same pace. "This took the wind out of the relief rally," said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial.

The news raised new concerns about overall economic growth for the second half of the year on the heels of Friday's disappointing second-quarter GDP growth of 1.3% and a revision lower of first-quarter GDP to 0.4% from 1.9%.

The Census Bureau's report that construction spending rose slightly in June only provided a bit of relief because investors expect the number to be revised. Construction spending has slowed in the past six months.

Gold futures lost ground after investors sought safe havens earlier in the session. The December gold contract shed $9.50, or 0.6%, to settle at $1621.70 an ounce. The September crude oil contract lost 81 cents to trade at $94.89 a barrel.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury rose13/32, diluting the yield to 2.751%. The dollar climbed 0.7% against a basket of currencies.

Of the 4.4 billion shares that traded on the New York Stock Exchange, 49% fell and 49% rose. 2.2 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq.

Healthcare stocks were among the session's worst-performers with Merck (MRK) and Pfizer (PFE) among the Dow's biggest laggards.

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