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US STOCKS-Wall St retreats after consumer data sparks worries

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* Consumer confidence posts sharpest decline in over 3 yrs

* Pullback follows biggest pct gains for indexes in about 10yrs

* Dow down 2.40 pct, S&P 500 down 2.74 pct, Nasdaq down 3.21pct (Updates to late afternoon)

By Lewis Krauskopf

Dec 27 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks retreated on Thursday a dayafter massive gains as the sharpest drop in U.S. consumerconfidence in years raised fresh concerns about the economy.

The three major U.S. indexes fell more than 2 percent, withthe Nasdaq slipping the most. For the month, they are each downmore than 12 percent as the benchmark S&P 500 is set to post itsbiggest percentage decline since 2008 in an increasinglyvolatile environment for stocks.

Strategists said it was not surprising for the market topull back after Wednesday's huge advance, which included the DowJones Industrial Average's first-ever 1,000-point daily surge.

"There is still a lot of skepticism that yesterday's rallywas just a technical bounce," said David Joy, chief marketstrategist at Ameriprise Financial in Boston. "There's not a lotof conviction that we have been able to put in a bottom yet.That won't happen for a while I don't think until we are able tosee some stability over the course of several more trading daysif not longer."

A measure of U.S. consumer confidence posted its sharpestdecline in more than three years in December. The ConferenceBoard said its consumer confidence index fell this month by 8.3points to a reading of 136.4, the largest one-month drop sinceJuly 2015. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1YW089

The consumer data comes a day after a report that holidaysales were the strongest in years helped mollify concerns aboutthe health of the economy. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N1YV2J4

"The consumer has been a big support for this economy and ifall of a sudden the consumer starts to get a little bit anxiousand spending slows down, that's going to have an impact," Joysaid.

Indeed, the strength of the economy remains a key concernfor investors heading into 2019, along with trade tensionsbetween the United States and China, the pace of interest ratehikes, and an expected slowdown in U.S. corporate profit growth.

"One of the things that is very clear is there are probablymore things today going on to worry people than usual," saidMark Stoeckle, chief executive officer of Adams Funds inBaltimore.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell549.92 points, or 2.4 percent, to 22,328.53, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 67.72 points, or 2.74 percent, to 2,399.98 and the NasdaqComposite .IXIC dropped 210.45 points, or 3.21 percent, to6,343.90.

All 11 major sectors were in negative territory, withconsumer discretionary .SPLRCD declining the most. Shares ofonline retailer AmazonAMZN.O were among the biggestindividual weights on the S&P 500, falling 5.3 percent andgiving up much of their gains from a day earlier.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a4.42-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.30-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; theNasdaq Composite recorded 3 new highs and 204 new lows. (Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak in New York, MedhaSingh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and ChizuNomiyama) ((lewis.krauskopf@thomsonreuters.com; 646-223-6082; ReutersMessaging: lewis.krauskopf.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net,Twitter: @LKrauskopf))


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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