US stocks end lower on profit-taking, economic anxiety

NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks ended lower on Wednesday, a decline that analysts attributed to a mix of profit-taking and a couple of prominent earnings disappointments.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 54.33 points (0.35 per cent) to 15,413.33.

The broad-based S&P 500 slid 8.29 (0.47 per cent) to 1,746.38, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index declined 22.49 (0.57 per cent) to 3,907.07.

Wednesday's losses came on the heels of a 10-day winning streak that saw the S&P 500 gain almost 6 per cent.

"We had some disappointing earnings here in the US but I think it's more a function of how much we've been up all across the board, a natural breather after a very strong rally," said Mr Alec Young, a global equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ.

But Mr Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer at Cornerstore Wealth Management, said weak earnings reports from Dow component Caterpillar and Broadcom exacerbated anxiety in the wake of the recent partial US government shutdown.

"There's a general sense that economic momentum has slowed and people are wondering just how much of an impact the debt negotiations in Washington had on the economy," Mr Skrainka said.

Caterpillar fell 6.1 per cent after earnings declined 44 per cent and the company slashed its full-year forecast for the third straight quarter.

Caterpillar has been badly hurt by the weakening mining sector.

Semiconductor firm Broadcom fell 2.9 per cent after announcing it was cutting 1,150 jobs, even as it bested earnings expectations. Citi lowered its earnings estimates, citing the company's weaker outlook.

Boeing, a Dow component, advanced 5.3 per cent after the company reported 12 per cent higher earnings and raised its 2013 profit outlook on a pick-up in commercial aircraft deliveries.

Corning, which manufactures and sells speciality glass, surged 14.1 per cent after announcing a series of strategic and financial ventures with Samsung to incorporate Corning glass in Samsung smart phones and other products.

American Realty Capital Properties dipped 2.0 per cent after it announced an US$11.2 billion acquisition of Cole Real Estate Investment, another real estate investment trust. Cole gained 8.8 per cent.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury slipped to 2.49 per cent from 2.51 per cent, while the 30-year declined to 3.58 per cent from 3.61 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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