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Stocks Edge Lower as Late Selloff Reins in Dow

cnbc.com
Wednesday, 20 Dec 2006 | 5:24 PM ET

Stocks pulled back fractionally as a late-day selloff prevented another record day for the Dow, while the Nasdaq and S&P 500 finished slightly lower as well.

Technology shares climbed higher Wednesday, but weakness in retail, energy and drug stocks more than offset tech gains. Gaining shares outpaced losers on the New York Stock Exchange by 9 to 7, but transportation bellwether FedEx dragged on the Dow as the company presented a cloudy outlook for its fiscal third quarter that overshadowed improved second-quarter profits.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished just below the flatline, and the Nasdaq and S&P 500 closed similarly.

FedEx fell after its third-quarter forecast disappointed the Street. FedEx founder and chief executive Frederick W. Smith cited "somewhat slower growth in the U.S. economy related to adjustments in housing and manufacturing sectors."

On Thursday, traders will have more economic data to examine including the third-quarter final Gross Domestic Product report and the weekly jobless claims, both due before markets open.

Dow leaders included Hewlett-Packard , United Technologies and 3M .

New York light crude futures traded at $64 a barrel for the first time since late September, but then fell as traders digested the data . Weekly Inventory Data from the Energy Department showed crude supplies fell more than expected last week, however gasoline inventories were higher than analysts had expected.

Energy stocks were mostly lower, despite the increase in oil prices.

Shares of CarMax soared after the largest U.S. retailer of used cars posted quarterly earnings of 42 cents a share, much stronger than the 25 cents a share analysts were expecting.

In the telecom sector, Ericsson announced it will buy data-routing companyRedback Networks for $2.1 billion in cash.

Meanwhile, Northfield Laboratories fell after announcing late Tuesday that a late-stage trail of a blood substitute resulted in more deaths in the population receiving the substitute than in the control group.

Global Markets Rebound

Asian stock markets rebounded as worries about Thailand eased after the government reversed restrictions on foreign investments in its stock market. European markets also recovered some of Tuesday's losses thanks to more merger activity.

London's FTSE-100 was unable to hang on to gains, closing down slightly.


Elsewhere in Europe, Frankfurt's DAX and the Paris CAC-40 closed higher.

The Nikkei 225 Average closed 1.4% higher to finish above the 17,000 level for the first time in more than seven months.

The Australian market closed at another record high. Hong Kong and Singapore stocks finished higher, tracking rebounding regional markets.

  Price   Change %Change
DJIA
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NASDAQ
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S&P 500
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ERIC.B
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FDX
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HPQ
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KMX
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MMM
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UTX
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