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US: Stocks flat as Mastercard sees solid holiday sales

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[NEW YORK] The Dow edged higher early Wednesday while the Nasdaq retreated a bit from its record close following data suggesting solid holiday retail sales in 2016.

A MasterCard report estimated overall retail sales excluding auto and gas grew 7.9 per cent, with e-commerce and furniture scoring big gains, despite a drop in sales of men's apparel.

Analysts said trading volume remained low Wednesday in a traditionally sleepy period of the year between Christmas and the New Year.

About 20 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 19,948.42, up less than 0.1 per cent.

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The broad-based S&P 500 slipped 0.2 per cent to 2,265.07, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.1 per cent at 5,481.40.

Qualcomm fell 0.8 per cent after South Korea's anti-trust watchdog fined the chip giant US$850 million for abusing its dominant market position as a maker of baseband chipsets used in mobile phones. The San Diego company said it would approach the Seoul High Court to appeal the decision.

Boeing dipped 0.4 per cent on news Delta Air Lines scrapped an order for 18 Boeing Dreamliner planes, which originally was commissioned by Northwest Airlines prior to Delta's takeover of the airline. Delta advanced 0.8 per cent.