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Wall Street turns lower as oil descent continues

Stocks turned lower on the final trading day of the year, paring an annual advance after equity gauges reached all-time highs, as crude oil prices continued their descent. Gold fell 1.4% while crude was down 1.6%. The ASX SPI 200 is 5,383.

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The S&P 500 fell 0.6% to 2,062 at 3:37 p.m. in New York. The Dow Jones slipped 0.4% to 17,909, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 0.5% to 4,754.

Today’s slide concludes another banner year for U.S. stocks.

Buoyed by a steadily improving U.S. economy, expanding corporate profits and an accommodative Federal Reserve, the Dow is on track to rise 8.3% for 2014. Its six-year rally is the longest since the nine straight years of gains that ended in 1999.

The S&P 500 is tracking a gain of 12.4 percent, its third straight year of gains.

Market watchers say 2015 won’t be without its challenges.

Stocks are expensive compared with historical levels, and the Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates sometime in the next year.

While the U.S. economy is growing at an expanding clip, Europe’s is showing signs of trouble and China’s long-booming economy has been cooling.

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate for February delivery slid 1.6% to finish at US$53.27 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gold for February delivery declined 1.4% to finish at US$1,184.10 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Silver for March delivery lost 4.2% to settle at US$15.60 an ounce.

Platinum for April delivery declined 0.8% to settle at US$1,209.50 an ounce while palladium for March delivery fell 0.7% to finish at US$798.40 an ounce, an 11% increase over the year.


Wall Street round-up

NephroGenex (NASDAQ:NRX), a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company, almost tripled to US$13.62 after announcing positive safety study results for its diabetic nephropathy treatment Pyridorin.

American Eagle Energy (NYSEMKT:AMZG), an oil and gas exploration and production company, fell  2.2% to US$0.646, paring earlier loss to as low as $0.51 after saying it has suspended its drilling operations and likely won’t resume until oil prices improve.



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