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US: Wall Street slips on tech results, chances of Fed hike

US stocks ended slightly lower on Thursday as the market digested disappointing tech earnings reports and the potential for an interest rate hike in December.

[NEW YORK] US stocks ended slightly lower on Thursday as the market digested disappointing tech earnings reports and the potential for an interest rate hike in December.

The Federal Reserve, which kept rates unchanged at its policy meeting that ended Wednesday, downplayed concerns about global growth and indicated confidence in the US job market's recovery.

Stocks had jumped on Wednesday following the Fed statement and, after a strong run from the end of September, were due for a "reprieve," said Jason Ware, chief investment officer at Albion Financial, in Salt Lake City. "I would just say that we had a big move and this is a bit of a cooling pause the next day," Ware said.

The three indexes are on track for their best month in four years.

S&P utilities, which tend to do worse when interest rates are rising, were the worst-performing S&P sector, off 0.6 per cent.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 23.72 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 17,755.8, the S&P 500 lost 0.94 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 2,089.41 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 21.42 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 5,074.27.

The three indexes recovered much of the day's losses late in the session.

After the bell, US-listed shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals fell 11.5 per cent to US$98.63, extending losses from the regular session, when it dropped 4.7 per cent to end at US$111.50.

Express Scripts Holding Co and CVS Health Corp said they had dropped Philidor Rx, a specialty pharmacy used by Valeant, from their networks in a sign the fall-out from the drugmaker's connection with the specialty pharmacy is spreading.

Also after the close, shares of LinkedIn jumped 12.4 per cent to US$244 as it reported earnings and revenue that beat analysts' expectations.

The S&P healthcare sector ended the session up 0.4 per cent, making it the top-performing sector, as Allergan's shares shot up 6 per cent to US$304.38. The Botox maker confirmed it was in buyout talks with Pfizer. Pfizer dropped 1.9 perc ent.

Sixty per cent of the S&P 500 companies have reported quarterly results so far. Analysts now expect overall third-quarter profit to decline a modest 1.7 per cent, compared with the 4.2 per cent drop forecast on Oct 1, according to Thomson Reuters data.

NXP Semiconductors sank 19.7 per cent to US$73 after its bleak forecast. The slide took down other chipmakers, with the broader semiconductor index down 3 per cent.

F5 Networks Inc shares fell 9.3 per cent to US$110.08 after a disappointing outlook, making it the biggest percentage loser in the S&P 500 technology index.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,852 to 1,185, for a 1.56-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,820 issues fell and 959 advanced for a 1.90-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 28 new 52-week highs and 6 lows; the Nasdaq recorded 102 new highs and 76 new lows.

About 7 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, about even with the 7.1 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.