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Stocks drop for 3rd day of new year

By Nick Taborek
Bloomberg News

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NEW YORK: Stocks fell for a third day, the longest stretch of declines to start a year for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index since 2005, after slower-than-forecast growth in service industries.

Twitter fell 3.9 percent after Morgan Stanley said investors should sell the shares because the microblogging service may lose online advertising revenue to larger rivals such as Facebook. Whole Foods Market fell 3.5 percent after an analyst report cited risks from increased competition. Verizon Communications climbed 0.6 percent after T-Mobile US agreed to buy airwaves from Verizon Wireless for about $2.4 billion. Financial shares in the S&P 500 added 0.2 percent, the second-biggest gain among the 10 main industries.

The S&P 500 slid 0.3 percent to 1,826.77. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 44.89 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,425.10.

“Today is just noise back and forth ... up a little, down a little,” said Donald Selkin, who helps manage about $4 billion as the New York-based chief market strategist at National Securities Corp.

The ADP Research Institute reports the change in companies’ payrolls on Wednesday and minutes from the Federal Reserve’s Dec. 17-18 meeting will be released the same day. The Labor Department will provide the unemployment rate and new hiring figures for last month on Friday.

Stocks trimmed losses earlier after Blackstone Group LP’s Byron Wien forecast U.S. economic growth of more than 3 percent for 2014. Wien, vice chairman of Blackstone’s advisory services unit, said in his annual “10 Surprises” list that economic growth will top 3 percent this year. He predicted the S&P 500 will advance about 20 percent in 2014 after a sharp correction.

“It’s a relatively quiet news day, so a relatively bullish forecast by a respected strategist didn’t hurt at all today, and may have helped,” said Richard Sichel, chief investment officer at Philadelphia Trust Co.

Verizon gained 0.6 percent to $48.69. T-Mobile agreed to buy airwaves from Verizon Wireless for about $2.4 billion as part of a spectrum swap that will give both companies more network capacity.


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