Stocks waver after hitting record highs

The Dow spent much of the day above 40,000 points before finishing lower (SPENCER PLATT)
The Dow spent much of the day above 40,000 points before finishing lower (SPENCER PLATT)

Stock markets wavered Thursday following record-breaking rallies fueled by cooling US inflation that lifted the Dow index above 40,000 points for much of the day.

But at the end of the trading day in New York, the Dow found itself 0.1 percent lower at 39,869.38.

"We had a big move yesterday in response to data that were friendly for, the Fed," said Angelo Kourkafas of Edward Jones.

"Today there was this absence of any major catalyst," he said. "With stocks at all-time highs, I think taking a breather is healthy."

Both the S&P and Nasdaq joined the Dow in the red at the close.

All three indices closed at records on Wednesday following data showing a cooling in US inflation, which raised hopes of Federal Reserve interest rate cuts.

London -- despite telecoms group BT soaring 17 percent -- Paris and Frankfurt in contrast ended in the red, one day after striking their own records over expectations of rate cuts in the eurozone and the UK.

"Profit-taking is likely to be the main driver behind today's weakness in stocks," City Index analyst Fawad Razaqzada told AFP on European trading as there was no major news to send stocks lower.

"European markets have failed to follow the bullish theme set in the United States," said Scope Markets analyst Joshua Mahony.

Hopes that the Fed and other central banks will soon cut interest rates have supported equities in recent sessions.

Elsewhere, the dollar got a boost following data showing a rise in US import prices in April.

Oil prices advanced following US data showing a drop in gasoline inventories ahead of the Memorial Day kickoff of the summer driving season.

Among individual companies, Walmart shot up 7.0 percent after reporting better-than-expected profits as the retail giant pointed to gains from wealthier consumers.

But Deere & Company dropped 4.7 percent as it projected broad-based 2024 sales declines in light of a tough operating environment in the farming economy.

- Key figures around 2040 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 39,869.38 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.2 percent at 5,297.10 (close)

New York - Nasdaq Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 16,698.32 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 8,438.65 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.6 percent at 8,188.49 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 0.7 percent at 18,738.81 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.6 percent at 5,072.45 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.4 percent at 38,920.26 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.6 percent at 19,376.53 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 3,122.40 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0870 from $1.0884 on Wednesday

Dollar/yen: UP at 155.40 yen from 154.88 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2670 from $1.2685

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.76 from 85.80 pence

Brent North Sea Crude: UP 0.6 percent at $83.27 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.8 percent at $79.23 per barrel