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US: Stocks retreat, ending streak of records

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks retreated for the first time in 2018, as all three major indices closed slightly lower on Wednesday amid worries over the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.1 per cent to finish the session at 25,369.13.

The broad-based S&P 500 also shed 0.1 per cent to 2,748.23 and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.1 per cent to 7,153.57, ending a six-day streak of records for those indices.

Shares of several companies that have benefited from Nafta fell sharply following a Reuters report that Canadian officials increasingly expect President Donald Trump as likely to abandon the trade pact.

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General Motors fell 2.4 per cent, beer and spirits marketer Constellation Brands dropped 1.2 per cent and railroads Kansas City Southern and Canadian Pacific Railway each lost almost four percent.

Still, US stocks finished well above their session lows, an indication that many investors remain bullish heading into earnings season.

"Clearly the underlying sentiment towards equities is very positive and people are looking to buy the dip," said Karl Haeling, portfolio manager at LBBW Asset Management.

Gainers included banks JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo ahead of the company earnings reports on Friday, and Dow member General Electric, which rose 2.0 per cent.

But Intel, another blue-chip company, continued to drop amid unease over a security vulnerability affecting widely-used computer chips. The firm's shares fell 2.6 per cent.

AFP