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Weak retail sales send stocks lower

A surprisingly weak retail sales report drove stocks lower on Tuesday, giving the Dow Jones industrial average its second straight day of losses.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that retail sales rose just 0.3 percent in January, the smallest increase since June and half of what economists had predicted.

The Dow fell 41.55 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 12,226.64. That's only the third day this month the Dow has closed lower.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 4.31, or 0.3 percent, to 1,328.01. The Nasdaq composite index fell 12.83, or 0.5 percent, to 2,804.35.

Roughly three stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was 929 million shares.

NYSE Euronext, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, agreed to combine with the operator of the Frankfurt stock exchange, Deutsche Boerse AG, creating the world's largest financial markets company.

Shares of both companies fell after the deal was announced. NYSE Euronext's shares lost 3.4 percent in Manhattan, while Deutsche Boerse's lost 2.4 percent in Frankfurt, Germany.

One of NYSE's biggest competitors, Nasdaq OMX Group Inc., fell 4.6 percent. - AP

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