US stocks retreat as Fed official hints at early rate hike

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks retreated from record highs on Tuesday (Aug 16) as a senior Federal Reserve policymaker said the US central bank could possibly hike interest rates as early as September.

William Dudley, head of the Fed's New York branch, told Fox Business that a rate hike was possible next month and that Wall Street investors were too "complacent" about the prospect of higher rates over the next year.

Analysts also said stocks were due for a pause after all three major indices set records two of the last three sessions.

"Today is nothing more than taking a breather," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.5 per cent to 18,552.02.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.6 per cent to 2,178.15, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.7 per cent at 5,227.11.

Industrial gas supplier Praxair advanced 2.7 per cent on news of discussions with German company Linde over a potential "merger of equals."

Lockheed Martin dropped 3.2 per cent after announcing that a transaction to spin off its information systems business would enable it to reduce its common shares outstanding by about 9.4 million shares, fewer than some analysts expected.

Morgan Stanley climbed 2 per cent as activist fund ValueAct disclosed a holding of 38 million shares in the investment bank, giving it about a 2 per cent stake in the bank.

Hain Celestial Group, which produces Celestial Seasonings tea and various organic foods, plunged 26.3 per cent after announcing it was delaying publication of its fourth-quarter and fiscal year 2016 reports due to a review of its financial statements and internal controls.

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