Stocks decline after a long winning streak

US stocks ended lower yesterday, resuming their recent decline as investors sold growth-oriented sectors on speculation the Federal Reserve may slow the pace of its economic stimulus.

The move follows a roughly two per cent retreat in the last two weeks from a seven-month run of gains, which had been partly driven by continued economic support from the US central bank.

Growth-oriented sectors were among the hardest hit, a switch from last week when investors booked profits in high-dividend paying shares. The S&P financial index was down 0.9 per cent, while the telecommunications index was up 0.9 per cent.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 76.49 points, or 0.50 per cent, at 15,177.54. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 9.04 points, or 0.55 per cent, at 1,631.38 for the day, but remains up 14.4 per cent for the year.

The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 20.11 points, or 0.58 per cent, at 3,445.26.

The Dow’s decline also ended a 20-week-long streak of gains yesterday.

All three indexes had been down more than one per cent during the session. Intraday market volatility has picked up since minutes from the U.S. central bank’s most recent meeting and recent remarks by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke heightened concerns the Fed may reduce the pace of its bond-buying program sooner than expected.

Market breadth was also negative, with decliners outpacing advancers on the New York Stock Exchange by nearly two to one.

Volume was roughly 6.8bn shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, slightly above the average daily closing volume of about 6.4bn shares this year.