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US: Stocks edge slightly lower as banks, tech retreat

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[NEW YORK] Shares of banks and some prominent technology companies fell Thursday as US stock markets finished slightly lower following another sleepy holiday session.

Bank of America, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs all saw their share prices drop one per cent or more, while Amazon dipped 0.9 per cent at Tesla Motors 2.3 per cent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.1 per cent to 19,819.78, retreating further from a charge at the 20,000-point milestone, a landmark that now seems less attainable by year end.

The broad-based S&P 500 slipped a hair to 2,249.26, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.1 per cent to 5,432.09.

Market voices on:

Analysts attributed the weakness in stocks in part to a rejiggering of assets in the wake of a post-election rally that lifted the market to repeat records in December.

"Stocks have done very well and there is a reallocation out of the winning asset, which is stocks, into the asset which has not done as well, which is bonds," said Nicholas Colas, chief market strategies at Convergex, a New York brokerage firm.

Markets largely shrugged off the Obama administration's move to slap sanctions on Russia over its hacking of Democratic Party interests ahead of the US presidential election.

Barrick Gold and Newmont Mining each gained more than 7 per cent. Gold prices, which have been under pressure since the US elections, have rallied over the last few days.

Despite Thursday's decline, the S&P 500 is up about 10 per cent for 2016 with one trading day left to go in the year.

Analysts vary in their appraisal of the outlook for 2017, with some predicting additional gains for stocks and others warning the market could be in for a retreat if President-elect Donald Trump fails to deliver major policy changes.