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Weak Holiday Sales Hit Stocks

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Stocks continue a slow and steady decline as the fiscal cliff draws nearer by the hour. The president and Congress should be back in town today to start negotiating again, but there's only fleeting hope that a deal will be reached within the next week. But that's not all that's driving stocks today.

Slow retail numbers this holiday season have put a damper on stocks. A reading of December store sales from Johnson Redbook said that through Dec. 22, sales were only up 2.4% month to date over last year. Estimates had been for a 2.6% gain. Another index from the International Council of Shopping Centers said that same-store sales for the week ending Saturday were up 0.7%. The council still expects industry sales to rise 4% to 4.5% for the month. This data has helped push the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) down 0.09% for the day and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) 0.32% lower.

It shouldn't be a surprise that Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) and Target (NYSE: TGT  ) are moving lower today, falling 1% and 0.6%, respectively. The bad news has made its way to online retail, as well, where (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) has fallen 3.8% on the day. It looks like everything from high-end to low-end retail is suffering today, but let's not forget that data still shows growth in holiday spending. At least the numbers aren't going backwards.

Amazon was also hit today after Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX  ) blamed a Christmas Eve outage on Amazon's AWS servers. This is one of the huge growth opportunities for Amazon and this kind of public black eye isn't what any company wants. Today isn't a good day for Amazon's core businesses.  

Is Amazon still a buy this holiday?
Everyone knows Amazon is the big, bad wolf in the retail world right now, but at its sky-high valuation, most investors are worried it's due for a correction. We'll tell you what's driving the company's growth, and how to know when to buy and sell Amazon in our new premium report. Our report also has you covered with a full year of free analyst updates to keep you informed as the company's story changes, so click here now to read more.

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