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US stocks end with modest losses after early plunge

US stocks recovered from a sharp opening fall sparked by a Portugal bank scare and general investor caution to end with modest losses on Thursday.

NEW YORK: US stocks recovered from a sharp opening fall sparked by a Portugal bank scare and general investor caution to end with modest losses on Thursday.

After the initial reaction, traders appeared to discount the potential impact of problems in Lisbon-based Banco Espirito Santo, which sent shudders through European financial markets.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 70.54 points (0.42 per cent) at 16,915.07.

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 8.15 (0.41 per cent) to 1,964.68, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index slid 22.83 (0.52 per cent) to 4,396.20.

Earlier losses for the S&P were nearly one per cent.

"Portugal was certainly an issue... the news that there is a concern about a missed payment by the country's second-largest lender certainly created a lot of volatility," said Alan Skrainka of Cornerstone Wealth Management.

"It shows there is a lot of nervousness," after US markets hit record highs last week, he said, calling the news "an excuse for the stock market to sell off."

Shares in television network CBS sank 3.5 per cent, with some analysts blaming the sell-off on a snub of some of its top-rated shows like "The Good Wife" in the nominations for the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Netflix, which received several nominations for its shows "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black", lost 1.0 per cent. The big winner in the nominations was HBO, whose parent Time Warner slipped 0.3 per cent.

United Airlines parent United Continental Holdings soared 12.7 per cent on better-than-expected data on per-passenger revenues in the second quarter.

TRW Automotive also bucked the market trend, jumping 7.8 per cent when on the disclosure that it had received a buyout offer. It gave no details but media reports said the buyer is the German company ZF Friedrichshafen.

Supercomputer maker Cray announced a US$174 million deal with the National Nuclear Security Administration, sending its shares up 15.8 per cent.

Hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators sank 21.5 per cent after slashing second-quarter earnings projections by a third, citing slower sales partly attributed to the unusually harsh weather earlier in the year.

Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury dropped to 2.54 per cent from 2.55 per cent on Wednesday, while the 30-year rose to 3.37 per cent from 3.36 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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