NEW YORK U.S. stocks dipped on Wednesday as investors, awaiting fresh trading incentives, locked in profits after recent rallies took the S&P 500 to five-year highs.
Transportation stocks were among the worst performers weighed down by an 8.2 percent drop in CH Robinson Worldwide (CHRW.O), which dropped 8.2 percent to $61.53 after reporting fourth-quarter earnings.
The Dow Jones Transportation index shed 0.6 percent after closing at an all-time high on Tuesday. The index has surged more than 10 percent this year so far.
A 6-percent advance this year so far has lifted the benchmark S&P 500 index to its highest since December 2007, while the Dow briefly climbed above 14,000 recently, making it a challenge for investors to continue pushing the equity market upward in the absence of strong catalysts.
"You knew a correction was coming; the question was whether they were going to tease you and get it close and then start selling it off or get (the Dow) up to 14,000 and then start to make a move to the sell side," said Gordon Charlop, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York.
"We got a quick move and it's really just not healthy for markets to go one way, so the idea that a little bit of a correction is due isn't troublesome to me at all."
Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) was among the bright spots, up 1.4 percent to $55.07 after the company topped estimates for quarterly adjusted earnings and gave an optimistic outlook for the next few quarters.
According to Thomson Reuters data through Wednesday morning, of 301 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 68.1 percent have exceeded analysts' expectations, above a 62 percent average since 1994 and 65 percent over the past four quarters. In terms of revenue, 65.8 percent of companies have topped forecasts.
Looking ahead, fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies are now expected to grow 4.7 percent, according to the data, above a 1.9 percent forecast at the start of the earnings season.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 35.52 points, or 0.25 percent, at 13,943.78. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index slipped 3.17 points, or 0.21 percent, at 1,508.12. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 4.34 points, or 0.14 percent, at 3,167.24.
The benchmark S&P index rose 1.04 percent Tuesday, its biggest percentage gain since a 2.5-percent advance on January 2, when legislators sidestepped a "fiscal cliff" of spending cuts and tax hikes that could have hurt a fragile U.S. economic recovery.
Ralph Lauren Corp (RL.N) climbed 7.4 percent to $177.13 as the best performer on the S&P 500 after reporting renewed momentum in its holiday-quarter sales and profits.
Time Warner Inc (TWX.N) jumped 4.3 percent to $52.11 after reporting higher fourth-quarter profit that beat Wall Street estimates, as growth in its cable networks offset declines in its film, TV entertainment and publishing units.
Visa (V.N), the world's largest credit and debit card network, is expected to report earnings per share of $1.79 for its first quarter, up from $1.49 a year earlier. Smaller rival MasterCard (MA.N) recently reported better-than-expected results but said its revenue growth could slow in the first half of the year due to economic uncertainty.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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