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Stocks retreat on weak retail sales

Stocks retreat on weak retail sales
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Stock markets dropped Tuesday following retail sales figures that came in below expectations, signaling weakness in the economic recovery.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 167 points, or 0.6 percent, and the S&P 500 dropped 17 points, or 0.5 percent.

Data from the Commerce Department showed retail sales inched up just 0.3 percent in October, below the 0.5 percent mark economists had expected. September sales were also revised down from 1.9 percent to 1.6 percent.

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The latest data comes amid renewed congressional squabbling over a fifth, long-delayed COVID-19 relief package.

A series of key programs including padded unemployment benefits and small business loans expired in July, and several more benefits are due to expire at year’s end. While the economy’s performance beat expectations after the programs expired in the summer, the stimulus has seemingly worn off as the months passed, with monthly unemployment claims remaining stubbornly high.

The latest COVID-19 outbreak is wreaking fresh havoc, as states and local governments ramp up restrictions in an effort to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

--Updated at 4:08 p.m.