Stocks Take Breather After Wall Street Hits Record

LONDON (AP) - World stocks edged lower Tuesday as investors took a breather after Wall Street hit another record high this week, and on expectations the Federal Reserve will cut its monetary stimulus.

After closing at a record high on Monday, the S&P retreated 0.2 percent to 4,066.16 on Tuesday. The Dow shed the same rate, to 15,991.46.

The drop encouraged investors to reconsider the wisdom of chasing stocks to new highs just as the Fed is expected to pull back on its bond-buying stimulus program. That could happen next month or even as early as next week.

"The precise timing may still be uncertain but there can now be little doubt in the market that it is coming soon," said Julian Jessop, economist at Capital Economics.

That scenario was confirmed by strong U.S. economic indicators on Tuesday. Job openings reached a 5-year high in October, an encouraging sign for future growth prospects. Meanwhile, wholesale stockpiles grew 1.4 percent during the month as factories produced more goods and companies rebuilt their stocks, a sign they're confident consumers will buy.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 closed down 0.6 percent at 6,523.31 while France's CAC 40 shed 1.1 percent to 4,091.14. Germany's DAX fell 0.9 percent at 9,114.44.

Earlier, during Asian trading hours, the focus had been on economic indicators for China, the world's No. 2 economy.

China's factory production rose 10 percent in November from a year earlier, slightly lower than analysts' forecasts. But retail sales rose 13.7 percent, which was stronger-than-expected.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.3 percent to 23,744.19 while China's Shanghai Composite was nearly unchanged at 2,237.49. Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down 0.3 percent at 15,611.31 and South Korea's Kospi shed 0.4 percent to 1,993.45.

Australia was steady and benchmarks rose in Indonesia and Malaysia.

In energy trading, benchmark crude for January delivery was up 72 cents to $98.06 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 31 cents to $97.34 on Monday.

The euro rose 0.2 percent to $1.3771 while the dollar fell 0.4 percent to 102.84 yen.

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