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US: Banks, biotechs lead stocks lower

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[NEW YORK] Financial shares and biotechs were among the biggest losers Tuesday as US stocks retreated ahead of the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump.

Banking stocks, a winner since Mr Trump's election, stumbled badly, with Goldman Sachs losing 3.3 per cent and Citigroup 2.1 per cent. Both companies report earnings Wednesday.

"There's some profit taking setting in with regards to financials," Bill Lynch, director of investment at Hinsdale Associates.

"Given the fact they've done so well since the election based on the prospects of higher interest rates and deregulation, maybe they've come too far too fast." Banks have led a major stock rally since Mr Trump's election November 8. But trade has been choppy the last couple of weeks.

Pharma stocks were also weak, with Merck losing 1.4 per cent, Celgene 2.2 per cent and Gilead Sciences 1.6 per cent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.3 per cent to 19.826.77.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.3 per cent to 2,267.89, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 0.6 per cent to 5,538.73.

Consumer staples stocks were higher, with Procter & Gamble rising 1.4 per cent, Target 1.1 per cent and Wal-Mart 1.9 per cent. Wal-Mart announced it was creating 10,000 jobs in the US in an announcement applauded by Mr Trump.

Mattel jumped 4.7 per cent after announcing that Margaret Georgiadis had been named chief executive. She previously worked as president of Americas at Google.

Qualcomm tumbled 4.0 per cent on news that the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint charging the company with using anticompetitive tactics in the supply of a key semiconductor device used in cell phones and other consumer products.


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