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US: Dow ekes out record close for fourth straight day


[NEW YORK] Wall Street's rally lost steam on Monday but the blue-chip Dow still eked out a fourth straight record finish despite sagging financial stocks.

After spending much of Tuesday in the red, the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged into positive territory, finishing up less than a tenth of a percent at 23,557.23.

The broader S&P 500 was essentially flat, closing less than a tenth of a point lower at 2,590.64, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq saw heavier losses, falling 0.3 per cent to end at 6,767.78, retracing Monday's gains.

Peter Cardillo of First Standard Financial told AFP the declines came as investors pause after successive advances.

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"This is just some profit taking after a long run," he said.

With little in the way of market-moving economic data, investors were awaiting weekly figures on oil inventories, as well as news about Republican efforts to adopt sweeping tax cuts, he added.

"The tax bill and the oil prices will be the key going till the end of the year." Financial stocks weighed on the Dow, as Goldman Sachs fell 1.5 per cent and JP Morgan Chase & Co gave up a full two percent.

Republican aim to slash corporate tax rates by 15 percentage points to 20 per cent, but the outcome is less than certain, leaving investors to wait for the next development to spur investment decisions.

Solid earnings reports and rising oil prices - driven up by political turmoil in Saudi Arabia - had helped push Wall Street higher in recent days.

But crude prices fell on Tuesday in New York, with a barrel of West Texas Intermediate for December delivery losing 15 cents to settle at US$57.20 in New York.

Royal Dutch Shell fell 1.5 per cent while ConocoPhillips dropped 0.4 per cent and Exxon Mobil gave up 0.2 per cent.