The news out of China pressured commodities and commodities-related stocks, as did margin increasesat the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Investors will need to put up more money now to initiate or maintain a position in commodities ranging from butter to lumber, in an effort to calm the markets.
Oil prices slid to close above $81 a barrel, while gold declined to about $1,352 an ounce. The dollar slipped against a basket of currencies,as the euro moved higher on hopes Ireland would resolve its debt troubles.
Oil giants ExxonMobil , Chevron and ConocoPhillips were lower.
And financials were under pressure, led by Citigroup and UBS .
But retailers offered some bright spots. Ann Taylor advanced almost 10 percent after news of a rise in same-store sales growth women's apparel chain. The news also gave a lift to rival women's retailer Talbot's , which rose more than 6 percent.
Nike jumped after raising its quarterly dividend for the ninth consecutive year. The shoe maker raised its dividend by 14.8 percent to 31 cents a share, citing a strong balance sheet and growing sales.
Foot Locker also reported better-than-expected results, sending shares soaring, while Gap declined after despite reporting results in line with expectations, as Stifel Nicolaus cut the retailer's price target to $25 from $28.
In other earnings news, Dell shares were flat a day after the computer maker reported a profit that blew past expectations, despite sales that were short of what the Street was looking for. Dell's margins also beat forecasts, and it raised its full-year outlook.
Rival Hewlett-Packard was expected to report earnings next Monday after-the-bell.
In other tech news, the semiconductor sector was lifted by Marvell Technology, , which reported profit that topped estimates as slower growth in its hard drive business was offset by high-growth wireless and mobile segment.
National Semiconductor, Micron and Advanced Micro Devices all gained.
Cisco shares were trading flat after news the tech bellwether would buy back an additional $10 billion in shares. The firm had previously authorized up to $72 billion in stock repurchases. The plan is a part of a "continued commitment" to return cash to shareholders, according to Cisco CFO Frank Calderoni. Cisco's shares have fallen about 14 percent in November, since it delivered a disappointing earnings report.
Salesforce, meanwhile, soared more than 15 percent to the top of the S&P 500 after the cloud computing company beat estimates with a 1.8 percent rise in profit. At least 10 brokerages raised their price target for the stock.
But Autodesk slipped even after the firm reported earnings in line with estimates, with revenue beating forecasts.
And Intuit shares tumbled more than 6 percent after the maker of TurboTax software, reported a wider loss as consumers and businesses waited for tax season to approach before buying their preparation software. Meanwhile, Credit Suisse raised its price target on the firm to $43 from $39.
Google was reportedly in preliminary talks to buy Groupon, an online company that offers localized deals to consumers, according to a report on a Wall Street Journal website. Yahoo had offered $2 billion to $3 billion for the company earlier this year.
In addition, Google was seeking to fill more than 2,000 positionsas it continues to expand globally.
In other news, KKRis reportedly in talks to buyDel Monte Foods . Sources said KKR has offered $18.50 per share for the food make, which would value the company at about $3.6 billion.
China's decision was released at the same time Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke spoke at a European Central bank conference in Frankfurt in defense of the Fed's policy to stimulate the economy. Bernanke said the best way to support the global economic recovery is to boost growth in the United States. The Fed's bond buying program has come under fire from the countries such as China for weakening the value of the dollar.
Meanwhile, Ireland was still unclearhow much its banks would require, a day after the head of the nation's central bank said the company would need a loan of tens of billions of euros.
“China and PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain)—both of those issues are coming back,” Zahid Siddique, associate portfolio manager at Gabelli Equity Trust said on CNBC. “We had a good rally in September and October and now we’re becoming more cautious.”
Siddique expects the market to be more data-dependent going forward, and as a result, sees more volatility on the horizon.
On Tap Next Week:
MONDAY: 2-yr note auction, Minnesota Fed Pres Kocherlakota speaks; Earnings from Hewlett-Packard
TUESDAY: GDP, corporate profits, existing home sales, 5-yr note auction, FOMC minutes, FDIC quarterly report on bank earnings; Earnings from Campbell Soup and Medtronic
WEDNESDAY: MBA mortgage apps, durable goods orders, personal income and spending, jobless claims, consumer sentiment, new home sales, oil inventories, 7-yr note auction; Earnings from Deere and Tiffany
THURSDAY: Thanksgiving Holiday — All markets closed
FRIDAY: Black Friday — NYSE early close
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