Stocks Opened Lower as Tech Slump Weighed

U.S. stocks opened slightly lower on Wednesday, as technology stocks declined on concerns over stretched valuations and the impact of a U.S. tax reform on corporate earnings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 21.23 points, or 0.09%, to 24,159.41. The S&P 500 lost 2.48 points, or 0.09%, to 2,627.09. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 7.27 points, or 0.11%, to 6,754.94.

Oil prices edged down Wednesday, partly in response to rising U.S. product inventories. January West Texas Intermediate crude lost 73 cents, or 1.2%, to $56.89 a barrel. Brent oil for February gave up 63 cents, or 1%, to finish at $62.23 a barrel.

U.S. worker productivity rose 3 percent in the third quarter, the best showing in three years, while labor costs fell for a second straight quarter. The increase in productivity in the July-September quarter was double the 1.5 percent gain in the second quarter. Labor costs fell 0.2 percent after an even bigger 1.2 percent decline in the second quarter.

UnitedHealth struck a $4.9 billion deal on Wednesday to acquire the DaVita Medical Group unit of kidney dialysis firm DaVita in an all-cash transaction. DaVita Medical Group operates nearly 300 clinics and half a dozen outpatient surgical centers in six states – Florida, California, Colorado, Washington, Nevada and New Mexico.

Home Depot Inc, the largest U.S. home improvement chain, on Wednesday announced a new $15 billion share buyback plan and set a target to grow annual sales to between $114.7 billion and $119.8 billion for the year ending January 2021.

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