US stocks retreat, banks fall in sleepy holiday trading

New York - US stocks tumbled on Wednesday in a sleepy session that saw declines in banking shares and some other recent strong performers, suggesting investors were taking advantage of the rally to cash in.

The Dow retreated from a push to hit the 20 000-point milestone, falling 0.6% to 19 833.68.

The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 0.8% to 2 249.92, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.9% to 5 438.56.

Among those falling more than one percent were shares of Bank of America, Citigroup and Caterpillar, all of which had won outsized gains in the rally seen since the US Election Day.

"I think when you get to the point where you've got a hurdle like Dow 20 000 it seems to take some time," said Bill Lynch, director of investment at Hinsdale Associates.

"There is a fair amount of profit taking when the stocks get closer to that milestone."

Analysts described trading volume as light in the typically quiet week between Christmas and New Year, with many investors on holiday and little economic news to stir interest.

Qualcomm fell 2.2% after South Korea's anti-trust watchdog fined the chip giant $850m for abusing its dominant market position as a maker of baseband chipsets used in mobile phones.

The San Diego Company said it would approach the Seoul High Court to appeal the decision.

Another chip company, Nvidia, tumbled 6.9% after short-selling firm Citron Research highlighted a number of headwinds it said will buffet the company in 2017.

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