US stocks sag after weak December retail sales

Traders work in the S&P 500 options pit at Cboe Global Markets in Chicago, Illinois. (Bloomberg pic)

NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks sagged early Thursday following an unexpectedly weak US retail sales report from the key December holiday shopping period.

About 40 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.5% at 25,405.09.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.4% to 2,742.11, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 0.1% to 7,411.46.

Government data showed US retail sales dropped 1.2% in December from the previous month, marking the largest month-to-month decrease since September of 2009.

Economists had been expecting a token increase of 0.1%.

Although December is the peak season for shopping, this year’s period coincided with a stock market rout that likely dented some spending.

Retailer shares were mostly lower, with Amazon down 1.2% and Macy’s, Gap, Target and Williams-Sonoma all declining. Walmart was an exception, gaining 0.2%.

The biggest loser in the Dow was Coca-Cola, which dived 6.7% after unveiling a disappointing 2019 outlook. The soda giant cited weakness in several emerging markets, including Turkey, Argentina and parts of Africa.