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US: Tech stocks lead broad decline on Wall St


[BENGALURU] US stocks opened lower on Thursday, with technology shares leading a broad decline amid worries over stretched valuations.

The S&P 500 technology sector dropped 1.21 per cent, led by declines in index heavyweights such as Apple , Microsoft and Facebook.

The latest round of selloff in tech shares follows a two-day rout earlier this week. Investors have been locking in gains in a sector that had risen 16.7 per cent this year, far outperforming other sectors.

"Stocks have been at all-time highs and valuations are somewhat priced to perfection so a little bit of a pullback is not too surprising," said Myles Clouston, senior director at Nasdaq Advisory Services in New York.

"We may see the market take a breather in the next few sessions, but it is not necessarily doom and gloom." A Washington Post report that President Donald Trump was being investigated for possible obstruction of justice added to the jitters.

All 11 major S&P 500 sectors were lower. weighed the most on the consumer discretionary index.

Defensive plays like utilities and telecom services brought up the rear.

At 9:42am ET (1342 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 58.94 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 21,315.62, the S&P 500 was down 14.79 points, or 0.61 per cent, at 2,423.13 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 64.08 points, or 1.03 per cent, at 6,130.81.

Apart from raising interest rates and forecasting one more hike for 2017 on Wednesday, the Fed laid out its first clear outline to start trimming its $4.2 trillion balance sheet "relatively soon".

While the rate hike was widely expected, a clutch of weak economic data, including Wednesday's poor inflation numbers, raised questions whether the US economy was strong enough to withstand further tightening. Policymakers, however, viewed the soft data as transitory.

Big banks including Bank of America, Citigroup , Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley fell about 1 per cent.

Clouston attributed the drop in bank stocks to worries about lagging US inflation.

Kroger was down 12.5 per cent after the supermarket chain operator cut its full-year profit forecast.

Mattel was down 7.2 per cent at $20.63 after the toymaker cut its dividend.

One bright spot was a Labor Department report that showed fewer-than-expected Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 2,039 to 580. On the Nasdaq, 1,754 issues fell and 584 advanced.