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Overnight Markets: Banking and technology stocks lead Wall Street down

Overnight Markets: Banking and technology stocks lead Wall Street down

Wall Street slipped on Thursday, erasing most of the S&P 500's year-to-date gain, led by banking and technology stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average dipped five points or 0.03%, to end at 16,264. The S&P 500 lost four points or 0.19%, to close at 1,849. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 22 points or 0.54%, to finish at 4,151.

Citigroup (C.N) tumbled 5.4% a day after the Federal Reserve rejected the bank's plan to buy back $6.4 billion in shares and boost dividends, saying that Citigroup wasn't sufficiently prepared to handle a potential financial crisis. The steep fall in the bank’s share helped push the S&P 500 lower.

The Fed also turned down Zions Bancorp's plan late on Wednesday. Shares of Zions Bancorp (ZION.O) fell 1.2% yesterday.

Technology shares also suffered. Google Inc (GOOG.O) was off 1.6%, Microsoft (MSFT.O) was down 1.1% and Amazon.com (AMZN.O) fell 1.4%.

Meanwhile, economic data showed that the US economy expanded a bit faster than previously estimated in the fourth quarter. New claims for jobless benefits fell to a near four-month low last week. Separate data showed contracts to buy previously owned homes fell in February to their lowest level since October 2011.

Crude oil prices gained after the US and the European Union on Wednesday agreed to prepare possibly tougher economic sanctions in response to Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea territory.

Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) rose 1.6% after Bank of America Merrill Lynch boosted its rating on the stock to "buy".

Elsewhere, Accenture Plc fell 5% after saying it anticipates a continued “challenging” environment for its business. GameStop Corp. lost 4% after its earnings forecast trailed analysts’ estimates. Baxter International Inc. jumped 3.9% after announcing plans to split into two companies. Alcoa Inc. rallied 6.2% to the highest since 2011.

In Asia, shares gained on Friday in late morning trade led by banks, brokerages and energy shares.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.4% to 137 as of 11 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Topix index added 0.1%, after earlier falling as much as 0.7% as data showed consumer prices excluding fresh food climbed 1.3% in February from a year earlier.

South Korea’s Kospi index and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index both added 0.3%, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index was little changed. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 0.8%, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.6%.
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