Most U.S. Stocks Decline After Dow Briefly Reaches 16,000

According to Bloomberg,

Most U.S. stocks fell after the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose above 16,000 for the first time, spurring concern that equities have risen too far, too fast.

Consumer companies and commodity stocks led the retreat. Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) slid 1.7 percent after Bank of America Corp. cut its rating to underperform from neutral. Tyson Foods Inc., the largest U.S. meat processor, advanced 2.3 percent after reporting revenue above analysts’ estimates on a gain in prices and sales volumes for beef and chicken.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) slipped 0.4 percent to 1,791.53 at 4 p.m. in New York. Earlier, it topped 1,800. About three stocks fell for each that rose in the gauge. The Dow average gained 14.32 points, or 0.1 percent, to 15,976.02. About 6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, in line with the three-month average.

“We’ve moved pretty far pretty fast,” Kevin Caron, a Florham Park, New Jersey-based market strategist at Stifel Nicolaus & Co., which oversees about $150 billion. “Obviously there’s a potential for a little bit of a pullback.”

While four years of earnings growth and the Federal Reserve’s near-zero interest rate have led the S&P 500 on a 165 percent rally since March 2009, they have also driven valuations to a three-year high. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, speaking at the Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit, said he is “very cautious” on equities.

The S&P 500 trades at 17 times reported operating profit, a 20 percent increase from the beginning of 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Last week, the benchmark’s valuation reached the highest level since May 2010.

Continued Stimulus

“As we keep going and making new highs, we get into new territory and the air keeps getting thinner and thinner up here,” Tim Hartzell, who helps manage about $425 million as chief investment officer at Sequent Asset Management, said via phone from Houston. “Everybody is watching Yellen and feel comfortable that she’ll continue QE, maybe even put more into the system.”

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