Wall Street edges down on weak bank shares

Wall Street ended slightly lower on Thursday, held down by bank shares in quiet holiday trading as traders looked to position for the new year.

NEW YORK CITY (REUTERS) - The second to last trading day of 2016 closed with US stocks in the red on weakness in bank stocks. The major US indices took a break from the rally that began in the wake of Mr Donald Trump's Nov 8 election. Many investors are betting on his plan to cut taxes and regulations along with economic stimulus. 

Senior managing partner at Meridian Equity Partners, Mr Jonathan Corpina, said: "I think, what has happened over time is that, since the election and the run-up in the market, I think, portfolio managers and individual investors have positioned themselves accordingly, and have enjoyed this run-up in the market, and probably a few weeks ago, two weeks ago, probably, put everything on hold until 2017."

New economic data showed a drop in US exports last month pushed the country's trade deficit in goods higher, while the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week in a positive sign for the labour market. 

Drug developer Cempra lost more than half its value after US health regulators rejected its antibiotic.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE set a record high after a rally in precious metals miners, though other country indexes closed lower.