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US stocks rally stalls amid profit-taking

NEW YORK: US stocks finished a choppy session lower Monday in a move attributed to profit-taking after mostly gains in t

February 29, 2016

imageNEW YORK: US stocks finished a choppy session lower Monday in a move attributed to profit-taking after mostly gains in the last two weeks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 123.47 points (0.74 percent) to 16,516.50.

The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 15.82 (0.81 percent) to 1,932.23, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 32.52 (0.71 percent) to 4,557.95.

"There's been some profit-taking as we had a good two-week run," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities.

"Selling has brought more selling as a lot of traders are really poised to take profits at any fundamental pullback."

US oil prices climbed 3.0 percent on Chinese stimulus measures and calming signals from Saudi Arabia on the prospects for limiting volatility.

But that did not translate into gains for leading oil producers. Dow member ExxonMobil lost 2.0 percent, while Apache shed 3.0 percent.

Lower-than-usual trading volume is a sign that "market participants just continue to lack conviction," said Michael Scanlon, portfolio manager, US Equities, Manulife Asset Management.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals plunged 18.4 percent following a Bloomberg report that it is being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Earlier, Valeant announced that Michael Pearson had resumed as chief executive following a bout of severe pneumonia and that it was withdrawing its financial forecast due to a review of its accounting decisions.

Endo International, another pharma company, dived 21.0 percent after reporting a fourth-quarter loss of $118.5 million and projecting lower-than-expected revenues in 2016.

Biotech shares retreated. Amgen lost 3.6 percent, Celgene 2.5 percent and Gilead Sciences 1.0 percent.

Large banking stocks were also under pressure, with Bank of America down 1.4 percent, Citigroup 1.7 percetn and JPMorgan Chase 2.2 percent.

Signet Jewelers climbed 9.4 percent as it announced it was boosting its dividend by 18 percent after reporting fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of $3.62 per share, compared with analyst expectations of $3.55 per share.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2016