US STOCKS-Wall St ends lower as mining companies slump

Mon Dec 2, 2013 4:21pm EST
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* Data on manufacturing and construction spending point to growth

* Forest Labs rallies after comments; 3M falls after downgrade

* Black Friday holiday sales dip on discounts

* Dow off 0.5 pct, S&P 500 down 0.3 pct, Nasdaq off 0.4 pct

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Dec 2 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks closed lower on Monday, with investors unable to find new reasons to keep pushing shares higher after eight straight weeks of gains, while the mining sector slid alongside sharp drops in precious metals prices.

The major U.S. stock indexes hovered near break-even levels for much of the day after some encouraging economic data limited early losses, but turned lower in the last hour of the trading day.

Equities have rallied in recent weeks on expectations of continued stimulus from the Federal Reserve. The S&P 500 has risen for eight straight weeks, its longest run since a nine-week climb between November 2003 and January 2004, putting its yearly gain at nearly 27 percent. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 have hit repeated all-time highs this year.

"We're not expecting a severe pullback, but we're not jumping into the market with both feet, given how far we've come, and that there are no real catalysts," said John Norris, managing director of wealth management with Oakworth Capital Bank in Birmingham, Alabama.   Continued...