The final month of a stellar year for stocks began with a thud.
All three major indexes closed lower Monday, the first day of trading in December. Investors sold shares on signs that American shoppers -- that seemingly inexhaustible fuel of global economic growth -- may hold tight to their cash this holiday season.
Shoppers turned out in record numbers over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, but plunked down less cash than they did last year. It was the first decline in Thanksgiving weekend spending since a retail trade group began tracking it in 2006.
Investors reacted by selling all types of retailer stocks, from department stores to specialty chains. J.C. Penney, Macy's and Target fell about 2 percent each. Urban Outfitters dropped nearly 4 percent.
One big exception to the retailer doldrums was eBay, which rose 1.6 percent thanks to signs of strong sales from its online auctions.
The Dow Jones industrial average has surged 22 percent this year. On Monday, the Dow fell 77.64 points to 16,008.77. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 0.27 percent to 1,800.90. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.36 percent to 4,045.26. -- AP