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US stocks end mostly lower

US stocks finished mostly lower on Wednesday, snapping a four-day winning streak for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

NEW YORK: US stocks finished mostly lower on Wednesday, snapping a four-day winning streak for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The Dow lost 30.83 (0.19 per cent) at 15,963.94. The S&P 500 dipped 0.49 points (0.03 per cent) to 1,819.26, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tacked on 10.24 points (0.24 per cent) to 4,201.29.

The losses came even as the Senate voted to lift the US debt ceiling through March 2015, averting a contentious political battle that could have rattled markets.

Wednesday's muted market response is "a pause after yesterday," said Hugh Johnson of Hugh Johnson Advisors, alluding to US equity gains of more than one per cent on Tuesday.

Johnson described current market attitudes as "neutral" after negative sentiment dominated earlier in February. 

"The direction is not clear," Johnson said.

A UBS downgrade of Amazon sent shares tumbling 3.5 per cent. UBS surveyed users of the Internet retailer's Amazon Prime service and concluded that orders would decline if the company raises prices.

UBS said Amazon is also threatened by "the law of large numbers" that makes further revenue growth difficult given its heft, according to Barrons. com.

Dow Chemical dipped 1.0 per cent after it rebuffed a campaign by activist shareholder Dan Loeb to spin off its petrochemical assets. Dow said a review of the proposal showed it would have "negatively impacted Dow's value proposition," which is built around integrated product lines.

Dow blue-chip component Procter & Gamble lowered its earnings projections due to unexpected currency fluctuations in Venezuela and other markets. The consumer-product giant estimated core earnings growth in a 3.0-5.0 per cent range, compared with the prior estimate of 5.0-7.0 per cent. Shares dropped 1.7 per cent.

Online travel company TripAdvisor jumped 7.2 per cent on a bigger-than-expected rise in sales in the fourth quarter. Revenues came in at $212.7 million, up from the $205.8 million expected by analysts.

The report also lifted other online travel bookers, including Priceline (+2.7 per cent) and Expedia (+1.4 per cent)

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.76 per cent from 2.72 per cent, while the 30-year increased to 3.72 per cent from 3.68 per cent.

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