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Overnight Markets: Wall Street starts year with loss

Overnight Markets: Wall Street starts year with loss

Wall Street closed sharply lower on the first trading day of 2014 as investors booked profits in the wake of the S&P 500's best yearly advance since 1997 and after data pointed to a slowdown in manufacturing expansion in China and the US.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 135 points, or 0.82%, at 16,441. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 16 points, or 0.89%, at 1,832. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 34 points, or 0.80%, at 4,143.

The S&P closed 2013 with a 29.6% gain for the year. The Dow surged 26.5% in its best year since 1995. The Nasdaq jumped 38.3%, its best year since 2009.

Thursday’s losses came as data raised some concerns about manufacturing growth. China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers index declined in December to 51.0 from 51.4 in the previous month, pointing to the difficulties facing exporters.

In the US, the Institute for Supply Management reported that its closely followed manufacturing index slipped to 57% in December from 57.3% the month before.

Upbeat data on jobless claims did little to cheer investors. Initial weekly claims for unemployment benefits fell by 2,000 to 339,000 last week, the Labour Department reported.

Technology shares were among the top decliners yesterday after Wells Fargo downgraded Apple Inc (AAPL.O) to "market perform" from "outperform". Apple fell 1.4% and was the biggest drag on both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 indexes.

Netflix (NFLX.O) was down 1.5% and Micron Tech Inc (MU.O) lost 0.4%. Shares of both the companies more than tripled last year.

On the other hand, Newmont Mining (NEM.N) was one of the biggest gainers of the day, up 4% after gold prices gained 1.5% following a 28% slump over 2013.

US Steel Corp (X.N) added 2.6% after KeyBanc upgraded the stock to "buy," while Urban Outfitters (URBN.O) rose 1.8% on an upgrade from Jefferies.

In Asia, shares declined on Friday in morning trade after US equity gauges pulled back from records and a gauge of China’s non-manufacturing industries declined.

The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index dropped 1.2% to 460 as of 9:59 a.m. in Hong Kong. China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.6%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index decreased 1.6%. South Korea’s Kospi index slid 0.8% and Singapore’s Straits Times Index lost 0.4%.

Taiwan’s Taiex index declined 0.6%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 0.7%, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.6%.

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