US stocks decline on reports of tax cut opposition

Traders work at the post where Walt Disney stock is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks retreated on Thursday (Dec 14) as reports of congressional opposition to the tax cut plan and worries about lofty equity valuations ended the Dow's run of records.

Reports that Senator Marc Rubio, a Florida Republican, could vote against the final tax cut package revived worries about the long-anticipated plan. The Senate approved its version of the measure by just two votes including Rubio's, leaving US President Donald Trump's party little margin to lose support.

"The market is nervous because of the disorganised political situation," said Phil Davis of PSW Investments.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 0.3 per cent at 24,508.66, ending a four-day streak of records.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.4 per cent to end at 2,652.01, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.1 per cent at 6,856.53.

Analysts also have questioned the ability of the market to keep pushing higher after already achieving a series of records.

Those concerns offset a solid 0.8 per cent rise in US retail sales in November over October, reflecting the early part of the holiday shopping season. Data also showed further tightening in the US labor market.

Twenty-First Century Fox jumped 6.5 per cent after announcing it reached a deal to sell most of its key film and television assets to Disney for US$52.4 billion (S$70.7 billion). Dow member Disney also gained, winning 2.7 per cent.

Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries surged 10.1 per cent after announcing it plans to cut 14,000 jobs globally in a massive restructuring amid lower prices for generic drugs and debt problems.

Delta Air Lines gained 3 per cent as it projected an operating profit margin of 11 per cent for the fourth quarter. The airline also announced it ordered 100 Airbus planes with an option to buy 100 more.

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