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Where did the record high go?

US stocks began the quarter on the back foot, with the Nasdaq Composite giving up its gains after hitting a fresh intraday high earlier in the session, and shares of automakers falling after disappointing March sales.

Right out of the gate, the Nasdaq Composite — which clocked its best quarter since 2013 in the first three months of the year — rose as much as 0.3 per cent to 5,928.93 to hit a fresh all-time intraday high on Monday. By late morning, however, the index had given up its gains to finish the day down 0.3 per cent to 5,894.68.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500, coming off of its best quarter since 2015, finished the day 0.2 per cent lower at 2,358.83, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.1 per cent to 20,650.21.

Shares of automakers took a hit after the companies like Ford and General Motors posted lackustre sales in March, a month that is said to signal the selling pace for the full year, raising the prospect of an annual sales drop for the first time since the great recession.

The decline also came as a report from the Institute of Supply Management showed manufacturing cooled in March at a time when investors have been betting on improving economic prospects — and as political uncertainty has weighed on the post-election rally.

Safe haven assets, however, appeared to benefit from investor anxiety. The yield on the US 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to price, fell 5.2 basis points to 2.335 per cent. Meanwhile, gold prices rose 0.3 per cent to $1,253.34 a troy ounce.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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