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US: Wall Street set to end strong 2016 on dour note

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[NEW YORK] US stocks pulled back on the last trading day of the year on Friday, led down by Apple and other big tech stocks, but major indexes were still poised to post solid gains for 2016.

In subdued holiday trading, the S&P 500 was on pace for its third consecutive session of losses.

But the benchmark index was still on track for an annual gain of more than 9 per cent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed more than 13 per cent for 2016, but was also on pace to post its first weekly decline since the US election on Nov 8.

Stocks have stalled this week after surging in the wake of Donald Trump's presidential election. Investors have bet Mr Trump will cut taxes and regulations and introduce fresh economic stimulus.

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"It's been such a significant run-up that there's been a pause," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice-president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.

"We are to the point now where there's uncertainty with regard to what policies are implemented, when are they implemented and how are they going to affect the economy as a whole and industries specifically."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 55.22 points, or 0.28 per cent, to 19,764.56, the S&P 500 lost 10.5 points, or 0.47 per cent, to 2,238.76 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 51.17 points, or 0.94 per cent, to 5,380.92.

The Dow slipped further from the 20,000 milestone, after coming within 13 points of the mark but not yet breaching it.

Apple shares fell 0.9 per cent after a report that the company will trim iPhone production. The stock was one of the biggest drags on major indexes, while shares of Apple suppliers such as Cirrus Logic and Qualcomm also were lower.

Tech was the worst-performing major S&P sector, falling one per cent. Big tech companies such as Microsoft and Alphabet slumped more than one per cent.

Investors are wary that the market could be primed for a spill to start 2017, after the S&P 500 posted a surprisingly strong gain in 2016.

In other corporate news, Opko Health shares fell 19.9 per cent after the company said its experimental drug for growth hormone deficiency in adults failed to provide a statistically significant benefit in a late-stage study.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.21-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.80-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.

The S&P 500 posted one new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 40 new highs and 43 new lows.

REUTERS

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