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Dow Jones falls for fifth day in row as 2017 gains wiped out

The Dow Jones industrial average erased its gains for 2017 on Thursday after it fell for the fifth day in a row as Treasury yields continued to rise.

Losses were widespread, with three stocks falling on the New York Stock Exchange for every one that rose.

Utilities, real-estate investment trusts and others that pay big dividends were among the hardest hit because their payouts look less attractive when bond yields are rising.

The Dow fell 72.23 points, or 0.4%, to 19,732.40, slightly lower than where it finished 2016. Still, it is not far from its record closing high of 19,974.62, set one month ago.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index slid 8.20 points, or 0.4%, to 2,263.69. The Nasdaq composite gave up 15.57 points, or 0.3%, to 5,540.08.

The Russell 2000, which tracks smaller companies, lost 12.81 points, or 0.9%, to 1,345.74. The Russell, which surged after the presidential election and finished last year with a gain of almost 20%, also turned lower for the year.

Stocks have slowed in January following an electrifying jump higher since election day as investors wait to see what a Donald Trump presidency will really mean for stocks.

They have already seen the optimistic case, as shown in the 6% jump for the S&P 500 after Mr Trump's surprise election victory, propelled by expectations for lower taxes and less regulation on businesses.

But on the possible downside, increased tariffs or trade restrictions could mean drops in profits for big US companies.

"The stock market seems to be perched like a tightrope walker, balanced on the centre, but there are a couple hundred-pound weights on each end of the balancing pole," said Rich Weiss, senior portfolio manager at American Century Investments.

Even with all the uncertainties, the market has remained relatively calm.

The S&P 500 has not swung by 1%, either up or down, since early December. And the VIX index, which market pros use to gauge how nervous investors are, is still about 50% lower than where it was a year ago. Mr Weiss called that "irrational complacency".

Bond yields continued their march higher after more economic reports joined the recently growing pile of encouraging data. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2.47% from 2.43% late on Wednesday.

Yields have generally been climbing since election day on expectations that President-elect Donald Trump's policies will spur more inflation and economic growth.

AP

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