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US stocks end lower as Ukraine, Gaza weigh on markets

US stocks finished lower on Monday as geopolitical worries weighed on sentiment during the first trading session of a busy week of corporate earnings reports.

NEW YORK: US stocks finished lower on Monday as geopolitical worries weighed on sentiment during the first trading session of a busy week of corporate earnings reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 48.45 points (0.28 per cent) to 17,051.73.

The broad-based S&P 500 declined 4.59 points (0.23 per cent) to 1,973.63, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 7.44 points (0.17 per cent) to 4,424.70.

All three indices rallied significantly from morning declines that took the S&P 500 as low as 1,965.77.

Western powers have ratcheted up the pressure on Russia over the apparent shooting down of a Malaysian passenger jet over rebel-held east Ukraine, with the US insisting that Moscow force pro-Russian insurgents to cooperate with an international probe into the disaster.

Meanwhile, the death toll continued to rise in Gaza, where Israel has undertaken a ground assault against Hamas.

"The market is high and has been very strong," said Mace Blicksilver, director of Marblehead Asset Management. "But there are a lot of problems around too."

Markets were awaiting a stream of major earnings news, including reports early Tuesday from Coca-Cola, DuPont and McDonald's. Apple and Microsoft were to make their announcement after the market closes on Tuesday.

Oil-services company Halliburton gained 0.1 per cent after net income for the second quarter rose 20 per cent to US$774 million and the company announced it had authorised US$4.8 billion in additional stock repurchases.

Pharmaceutical company Allergan, which is fighting off an unsolicited takeover bid by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, announced it was cutting 1,500 employees, about 13 per cent of its workforce, plus another 250 vacant positions. Shares rose 2.2 per cent.

Fast-food chains McDonald's and Yum Brands were under pressure as Shanghai officials shut a food supplier to the companies because of allegations workers at a factory mixed expired meat with the fresh product. Dow component McDonald's lost 1.5 per cent, while Yum, which owns the KFC chain, dropped 4.3 per cent.

Herbalife, a nutritional products marketer, tumbled 11.2 per cent as activist investor William Ackman of Pershinq Square Capital Management announced a presentation Tuesday to outline charges of fraud against the company.

The company dismissed Ackman's criticism as "an attempt to manipulate Herbalife's stock price for Pershing Square's financial gain," according to an Herbalife statement last week.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury dipped to 2.47 per cent from 2.48 per cent on Friday, while the 30-year fell to 3.26 per cent from 3.29 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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