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Mild trading pulls Dow lower as Christmas holidays approach

Retailers took losses on Thursday and pulled US stocks lower in another day of mild trading before the Christmas holidays.

Bed Bath & Beyond was hit after the home-goods retailer reported weak results while Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba fell after it was sanctioned by the US government.

Companies linked to investor Carl Icahn climbed after the billionaire was named as a future adviser to President-elect Donald Trump.

Quincy Krosby, a markets strategist for Prudential Financial, said investors were concerned about the weak earnings for Bed Bath & Beyond and about the jump in interest rates since the election.

"When you have interest rates rising, at least initially, it tends to take a little bit from the discretionary (companies) because credit card payments move higher," she said.

The Dow Jones industrial average shed 23.08 points, or 0.1%, to 19,918.88.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 4.22 points, or 0.2%, to 2,260.96 while the Nasdaq composite dipped 24.01 points, or 0.4%, to 5,447.42.

After it reported a far smaller profit and weaker sales than analysts expected, Bed Bath & Beyond dropped 4.18 US dollars (£3.40), or 9.2%, to 41.38 dollars (£33.67).

Alibaba fell after the US government put the Chinese e-commerce company back on a list of marketplaces that sell large amounts of counterfeit goods and is slow to respond when companies complain about counterfeits.

Alibaba's US-listed stock lost 2.45 dollars (£1.99), or 2.7%, to 86.80 dollars (£70.64).

Several companies linked to Mr Icahn - who wants to cut business regulations - surged after the billionaire investor was named as an adviser to Trump on regulatory reform issues.

Icahn Enterprises rose 4.38 dollars (£3.56), or 7.6%, to 62.30 dollars (£50.68) and refining company CVR Energy added 2.25 dollars (£1.83), or 10.5%, to 23.69 dollars (£19.27).

Chocolate maker Hershey rose after it named Michele Buck as its next president and CEO. She is currently Hershey's chief operating officer. Hershey stock added 1.27 dollars (£1.03), or 1.2%, to 104.44 dollars (£84.99).

Benchmark US crude gained 46 cents (37p) to 52.95 dollars (£43.09) a barrel in New York and Brent crude, the international standard, rose 59 cent (48p), or 1.1%, to 55.05 dollars (£44.79) a barrel in London.

AP

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