Wall Street stocks retreat further from records

Traders at the New York Stock Exchange earlier this week

Wall Street stocks retreated further from record levels on Wednesday, with industrial, transport and energy shares falling especially hard as earnings season picked up.

The losses in New York ran in parallel to declines in Europe, while the British pound steadied after hitting two-year lows in the prior session.

After notching records last week, analysts have cautioned that stocks could be challenged to push higher, in part because lackluster corporate earnings are expected this quarter.

Weak US housing data also weighed on sentiment, along with lingering angst over US-China trade relations.

"Investors are clearly worried that the ongoing trade standoff between the US and China may hurt economic growth and require a looser monetary policy now rather than later," Fawad Razaqzada of Forex.com said in a note.

Shares of Dow members Caterpillar, United Technology and Honeywell International fell more than two percent on the dimming outlook of the sector's prospects amid slowing global growth.

Transport shares were another weak spot, with freight rail company CSX plunging more than 10 percent after it cut its full-year revenue forecast, in part due to a softer industrial environment.

"We've been watching this throughout the first half (of the year) hoping as everyone did that things would turn around and business levels would start to tick up," chief executive James Foote said on a conference call, describing the decline as "a very slow drift from the beginning of the year."

Rival freight rail companies Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern also fell sharply.

Petroleum-linked shares also tumbled, with Halliburton losing nearly five percent and Apache dropping three percent as oil prices fell following a surprise increase in gasoline supplies in a weekly US inventory report.

- Sterling steadies -

On the foreign exchange front, the British pound rallied modestly from Tuesday's plunge, but uncertainties about Brexit continued to loom over the currency.

"The risk of a hard Brexit was amplified this week thanks to Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt both confirming they would not accept the Northern Irish Backstop," said Joshua Tadbir, corporate hedging manager at Western Union Business Solutions.

"All things considered, is the risk of a no-deal Brexit underpriced?"

- Key figures around 2050 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.4 percent at 27,219.85 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.7 percent at 2,984.42 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.5 percent at 7,888.76 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.6 percent at 7,535.46 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.7 percent at 12,341.03 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.8 percent at 5,571.71 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.6 percent at 3,501.58 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.3 percent at 21,469.18 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.1 percent at 28,593.17 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 2,931.69 (close)

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2431 from $1.2407 at 2100 GMT

Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.27 from 90.36 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1222 from $1.1211

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.11 yen from 108.24 yen

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.1 percent at $63.66 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.5 percent at $56.78 per barrel

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