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US stocks back in retreat mode

US stocks were back in retreat mode Wednesday with fresh acquisitions receiving mixed reviews, as markets resist a push to their all-time highs.

About 50 minutes after the opening of the market, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 38.52 points (0.28 percent) lower at 13,940.78.

The S&P 500 index dropped 3.28 (0.22 percent) to 1,508.01, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite lost 7.03 points (0.22) to 3,164.55

The market continued to swing erratically. Recent trading has seen large double- or triple-digit moves alternate in the Dow Jones index since the index breached 14,000 last Friday.

Both Liberty Global and Virgin Media went lower following the announcement that Liberty would acquire Virgin for $16 billion, in a deal that values Virgin at $23.3 billion. Liberty was down 3.3 percent while Virgin, which surged Tuesday, lost 1.9 percent.

Biotechnology company Biogen jumped 5.5 percent on news that it acquired the stake held by Irish partner Elan in the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri for $3.25 billion.

The Walt Disney Company jumped 1.4 percent after reporting earnings that bested expectations and announcing that it plans additional offerings in the popular "Star Wars" film series.

Internet photo publishing service Shutterfly surged 18.8 after reporting a big jump in 2012 revenues and record adjusted profits.

Time Warner surged 4.6 percent higher after its earnings bested analyst expectations.

McGraw-Hill continued to retreat, dropping 0.3 percent one day after the Justice Department launched a lawsuit against the firm's Standard & Poor's unit.

Suncor Energy, a big player in Canadian oil and gas, fell 4.1 percent after taking a big charge on a shelved project to build an upgrader at its Voyageur oil sands complex.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell to 1.98 percent from 2.02 late Tuesday, while the 30-year yield fell to 3.20 percent from 3.22. Bond prices and yields move inversely.