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US stocks start 2014 in the red

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US stocks have kicked off the new year in the red, falling decisively in a selloff that analysts chalked up to profit-taking following solid gains in 2013.

At the closing bell on Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 134.99 points (0.81 per cent) to 16,441.67.

The broad-based S&P 500 declined 16.35 (0.88 per cent) to 1,832.01, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gave up 28.43 (0.79 per cent) at 4,143.07

Analysts said investors likely took the first day of trading of 2014 as an opportunity to rebalance portfolios after markets surged last year, pushing the S&P 500, a broad measure of the markets, up nearly 30 per cent.

A typical strategy is to wait to rebalance until a new tax year, said Sam Stovall, chief investment officer at S&P Capital IQ.

“The thought is you probably take some of those profits and redeploy them in areas that did not do as well in the prior calendar year,” Stovall said.

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