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Wall St. dips with health, consumer shares; gains for November

Traders gather at the post that trades Pfizer's stock on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange October 29, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Caroline Valetkevitch

(Reuters) - U.S. stocks slipped on Monday, led by declines in health and consumer shares, as investors braced for policy news from central banks.

The three major stock indexes posted a second straight month of gains, however, helped by financial shares (.SPSY), which were up 1.7 percent, while utilities (.SPLRCU) were down 2.8 percent for the month.

Retail stocks were down on Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year. The S&P retail index (.SPXRT) was down 1 percent, while Target (TGT.N) shares fell 1.3 percent to $72.50 after its website faced an outage due to heavy traffic.

Shares of brick-and-mortar stores were down following Black Friday, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), down 1.8 percent at $58.84, and Macy's Inc (M.N), down 2.3 percent at $39.08.

Sales on Cyber Monday, the busiest day of the year for internet shopping, were up 14 percent from a year earlier, according to data.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is due to address Congress on Thursday and give a speech on the economic outlook the day before.

While the U.S. central bank could raise interest rates in December for the first time since 2006, the European Central Bank is expected to unveil fresh monetary easing measures on Thursday.

Friday's non-farm payrolls report could give further clues on the direction of policy ahead of the Fed's Dec. 16-17 policy meeting.

"There's apprehension on the part of investors to make any big commitments ahead of the data and potential policy moves coming up," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) fell 78.57 points, or 0.44 percent, to 17,719.92, the S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 9.65 points, or 0.46 percent, to 2,080.46 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) dropped 18.86 points, or 0.37 percent, to 5,108.67.

For the month, the Dow was up 0.3 percent, S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent and the Nasdaq gained 1.1 percent.

The S&P health sector's (.SPXHC) 1.3-percent fall led the decliners, with biotech stocks down the most. Consumer staples (.SPLRCS) were down 1 percent, while discretionaries (.SPLRCD) fell 0.8 percent.

Other U.S. data expected during the week includes November manufacturing and auto sales reports.

Among other retailers, Staples (SPLS.O) fell 1.9 percent to $12.07. The New York Post reported U.S. antitrust regulators were preparing to block Staples' acquisition of smaller rival Office Depot (ODP.O). Office Depot was down 2.4 percent at $6.59.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,752 to 1,325, for a 1.32-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,516 issues fell and 1,327 advanced, for a 1.14-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 15 new 52-week highs and 7 lows; the Nasdaq recorded 127 new highs and 55 lows.

About 7.6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, above the 6.8 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

(Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)