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Overnight Markets: Healthcare and bank stocks pull Wall Street down

Overnight Markets: Healthcare and bank stocks pull Wall Street down

US stocks ended lower on Thursday, pushed lower by healthcare companies and banks, as investors worried about potential roadblocks to Republicans’ tax overhaul, offsetting their optimism over strong retail sales data.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 11 points, or 0.4%, to 2,652. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 77 points, or 0.3%, to 24,509. The Nasdaq fell 19 points, or 0.3%, to 6,856.

The slide, which erased gains from earlier in the day, came on news that some Republican senators' support for the GOP's proposed tax overhaul bill was faltering.

Small-company stocks, which would be among the biggest beneficiaries of the bill's reduction of corporate income tax rates, declined more than the rest of the market.

However, shares of retailers gained after a government report showed that retail sales jumped in November. Mattel climbed 4.2%, while Tiffany & Co. advanced 3.4%.

Healthcare stocks accounted for much of the market's losses. Medical care services company DaVita fell 3.2%. Shares in several banks and other financial companies also declined. Navient fell 2.5%.

Pier 1 Imports slumped 29.5% after the home decor company cut its forecasts and said its business has struggled in December.

In deal news, Disney rose 2.8% after the company agreed to buy a large part of the Murdoch family's 21st Century Fox for about $52.4 billion in stock. Fox was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, climbing 6.5%.

Teva Pharmaceuticals was another big gainer. The Israeli drugmaker jumped 10.2% after it said it would lay off 14,000 workers.

In Asia, stock markets were mostly lower on Friday in morning session as uncertainty about the progress of a sweeping US tax revamp outweighed an optimistic Japanese economic survey.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.9% while South Korea's Kospi climbed 0.4%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1% and the Shanghai Composite in mainland China lost 0.6%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 sank 0.2%.

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