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Dow Surges on Retail Sales; Apple Drags Nasdaq Lower

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stocks finished on a mixed note Monday with robust retail sales data driving a rebound in blue-chip stocks, while heavy selling in the tech sector dragged down the other major indices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 72 points, or 0.6% to finish at 12,921, down more than 60 points from the day's high of 12,986. The S&P 500 closed on a flat note at 1369, after flitting between the positive and negative territory during the trading session.

Thanks in large part to weakness in Apple (AAPL - Get Report) and Google (GOOG - Get Report) though, the Nasdaq tumbled 23 points, or 0.7%, to 2988.

Apple saw its shares drop 4.1% to $580.13 on much heavier than normal volume. The stock sank below $600 for the first time in April, has fallen for five straight sessions, and is now 10% below the April 10 all-time high of $644. The Wall Street Journal said there's some chatter in the market Monday that Apple may roll out an iPad Mini at $200 later this year.

Google, meanwhile, dropped 3% to $606.07, extending Friday's decline after its earnings report, which showed continued price weakness in the company's average cost-per-click metric. On Monday, the company was fined $25,000 by the Federal Communications Commission for hampering the investigation of its data collection practices.

The Nasdaq has outperformed both the Dow and S&P 500 by a wide margin in 2012, rising nearly 15% vs. gains of 5.2% for the Dow and 8.9% for the S&P 500 through Monday's close. U.S. stocks are coming off their worst week of the year with an underwhelming report on economic growth in China and the return of eurozone worries driving deep selling on Friday.

Breadth within the Dow was positive with 24 of the index's 30 components on the rise. The strongest percentage gainers among the blue chips were Travelers (TRV), Procter & Gamble (PG), Wal-Mart (WMT), DuPont (DD), Bank of America (BAC), Exxon Mobil (XOM), Intel (INTC), and Home Depot (HD), all rising more than 1%.

Hewlett Packard (HPQ) and Cisco (CSCO) were among the Dow's few decliners.

Early Monday, the Commerce Department reported that retail sales increased a better-than-expected 0.8% in March, compared with a rise of 1% in February. Taking out auto purchases, sales also rose 0.8%, topping estimates, compared with an increase of 0.9% in February. Sales grew 0.7%, excluding both autos and gas.

The New York Federal Reserve's Empire State Manufacturing Survey for April was a major disappointment before the bell with a reading of 6.56 compared with 20.21 in March.

Also, the National Association of Home Builders provided a reading on the April housing market index that dropped three points to 25, its first decline in seven months, as buyer interest has not yet translated into expected sales activity amid tight credit conditions, competition from foreclosures and appraisal issues. 50 is the line between positive and negative for this index.
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Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,773.64 -57.12 -0.32%
S&P 500 2,065.30 -10.51 -0.51%
NASDAQ 4,775.3580 -29.9330 -0.62%

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