Dow streak of records ends; European banks gain

John BIERS
Wall Street reversed course ending a steady upward trend and multiple days of record closing levels, as investors decided to cash in while others worried about the impact of tighter US monetary policy

The Dow's streak of seven straight records ended Thursday amid profit taking and anxiety over tightening Federal Reserve policy, as gains by banks lifted markets in Paris and Frankfurt.

Investors around the world continued to digest the Fed's decision Wednesday to begin to unwind a massive stimulus package, while also keeping alive a possible December interest rate hike.

The Dow and S&P 500 ended at records Wednesday, while the dollar rallied sharply. But those patterns reversed course Thursday.

After weeks of nearly steady upward movement, the market is "taking profits until the next news cycle with third-quarter earnings," said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research.

Phil Davis of PSW Investments was more downbeat, predicting a "pretty big sell-off over the course of the next couple of months" due to the short-term economic hit from two hurricanes and the impact of Fed tightening.

The blue-chip Wall Street index dipped 0.2 percent to close at 22,359.23.

The dollar also shifted from its decisive push higher the day earlier, falling against the euro and the pound even as it gained on the yen.

The euro strength stems from "expectations that the ECB could soon announce plans of its own to taper back on stimulus," said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions.

- Banks get a boost -

But higher interest rates translate into higher bank profits and shares of US banks such as Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase continued to rise.

European banks also were strong, with gains of more than two percent by BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and others leading to advances in stock markets in Paris and Frankfurt. London inched lower.

Shares in Germany's second-largest lender Commerzbank leapt as rumors that the government might soon sell off its stake set financial circles abuzz.

The bank's stock briefly added more than 5.0 percent, but was up just 1.5 percent at the close at 11.21 euros.

In Japan, the yen continued to be pressured as the Bank of Japan kept in place its ultra-loose monetary policy and offered no clues on when it may pull back on the program.

"Inflation remains a long way below its projections, so further reductions in the (BoJ's) forecasts next month are all but guaranteed," Marcel Thieliant at research house Capital Economics said in a commentary.

"Policy tightening remains a long way off," he added.

- Key figures around 2100 GMT -

New York - DOW: DOWN 0.2 percent at 22,359.23 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.3 percent at 2,500.60 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.5 percent at 6,422.69 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,263.90 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.3 percent at 12,600 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.5 percent at 5,267.29 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4 percent at 3,539.59 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 percent at 20,347.48 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.1 percent at 28,110.33 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,357.85 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1942 from $1.1893

Dollar/yen: UP at 112.49 yen from 112.24 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3583 from $1.3494

Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 14 cents at $56.43 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 14 cents at $50.55 per barrel

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