Stocks Recover From Session Lows but Tech Names Continue to Drag

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell from record highs on Monday as U.S. stocks were led lower by weaker Black Friday sales and troubling data from China that confirmed a manufacturing slowdown.

Apple (AAPL) and Tesla (TSLA) dropped 3.1% and 6.1%, respectively, caught up in volatile trading. Amazon (AMZN) was also dragging on the Nasdaq, down 3.1%, after filing to sell four tranches of senior unsecured notes, prompting an outlook downgrade to "negative" from Moody's.

A selloff among tech names was hitting Chinese Internet stocks hard. Alibaba (BABA) slid 4.9%, Baidu (BIDU) dropped 4%, and SouFun (SFUN) fell 7.3%.

Though off session lows, the S&P 500 remained 0.56% lower, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.15%.

Fewer consumers turned out for the deep discounts over the Thanksgiving weekend with total sales down 11% to $50.9 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Total shopper turnout for the weekend missed estimates by 6 million people. On the upside, online shopping jumped 15% over the year-earlier period, a strong sign for Cyber Monday.

"It may be Black Friday fatigue. Some of the broader consumer trends remain fairly robust," said David Bechtel, principal of Barrow Funds, in a call. "By the same token, domestically we have ever-increasing levels of debt. The amount of private sector and government sector debt outstanding today is far above the levels that existed prior to the financial crisis. At some level that's going to restrain further consumer spending."

Investors were running scared from the retail sector. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) fell 1.9%, while Macy's (M) , Kohl's (KSS) and J.C. Penney (JCP) traded in the red.

Macro worries were pervasive as Chinese manufacturing slipped to a reading of 50.3 in November, below an estimated 50.5. The read puts factory activity at the cusp of contraction. Europe saw manufacturing weakness over the month, too, with the latest data showing a continued slowdown in Germany, France and Italy, the eurozone's three largest economies.

Growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector was little changed with the ISM index of national factory activity down to 58.7 in November from 59 a month earlier, though remaining above the 50 level indicative of expansion. New orders climbed to their highest level since August, up to 66 from 65.8. 

"The ISM index, at 58.7, is a very positive report for the economy," Wells Fargo chief economist John Silvia wrote in a report. "Production and new orders were strong, with lower input prices. New export orders did not decline despite concerns about global weakness." 

Oil prices seemed to have stabilized by Monday, rising 4.3% after a 7% drop on Friday. West Texas Intermediate crude hovered at $68.96 a barrel, around 36% lower than a mid-year high point, after OPEC said last week it would not constrain production to address oversupply and soft demand.

Lions Gate's (LGF) latest installment in the Hunger Games series dominated the holiday box office weekend, pulling in another $56.9 million in the U.S. The film has now generated more than $123 million worldwide. Shares added 3.2%. DreamWorks' (DWA) Penguins of Madagascar disappointed in its debut, mustering only $25.8 million for the animation studio. DreamWorks shares were down 5.9%.

-- Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.

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