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US: Stocks retreat as FedEx falls on disappointing earnings

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks retreated on Wednesday amid worries about Italian banks and disappointing earnings from FedEx weighing on sentiment.

US stocks were in the red most of the session, after European stocks were again pressured by uncertainty about troubled Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena.

The Dow pulled back from its assault on 20,000, falling 0.2 per cent to 19,941.96, the only the fourth day in December when the index has closed lower.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.3 per cent to 2,265.18, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.2 per cent at 5,471.43.

Market voices on:

"I just think the market has had a big run up and it's just consolidating," said Peter Cardillo of First Standard Financial.

FedEx dropped 3.3 per cent after second-quarter earnings came in below expectations. Analysts said profits missed forecasts due to the hiring of drivers and others spending.

Twitter tumbled 4.7 per cent on news chief technology officer Adam Messinger was stepping down, the latest departure as the microblogging service struggles to boost readership.

Dow member Nike added 1.0 per cent after it reported a seven per cent rise in second-quarter earnings to US$842 million. Executives touted strong growth in China and said they were in the process of reducing product inventory to boost profit margins in North America.

Carnival rose 1.1 per cent after the cruise company lifted its full-year forecast and said advance bookings were well ahead of those from the year-ago period at higher prices.

Johnson & Johnson dipped 0.3 per cent after confirming it entered into exclusive negotiations with Swiss pharma company Actelion, a specialist in medications for rare diseases.

Accenture lost 5.0 per cent as it trimmed its 2017 forecast due to the drag from the strong dollar. Net income in the quarter ending November 30 rose 22.4 per cent to US$1.0 billion.