Apple, Cisco, Blue-Chips Drag Markets Lower

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NEW YORK (The Street) --- Apple, Cisco and General Electric were some of the blue-chip names dragging markets lower on the first day of trading for 2014. 

As the top laggard among the Dow Jones Industrial average, Cisco was trading ex-dividend on Thursday, dropping 1.3% to $21.97. Semiconductor maker Intel was also down 1.3% to $25.62 despite reports it's in talks to invest as much as $15 billion in Israeli production facilities over the next ten year's or more.

General Electric and Coca-Cola were among other Dow decliners, shedding 1.6% and 1% respectively to $27.58 and $40.89. GE has $35.2 billion of debt due this year - leading U.S. corporates that have a total of around $427 billion in debt maturing in 2014 against a backdrop of rising funding costs. Bellwether stocks Caterpillar and 3M also traded lower.

In the Standard & Poor's 500 Index , Cablevision Systems was declining 3.4% to $17.33 while Analog Devices was off 3% to $49.40 after being downgraded at Wells Fargo to market perform from outperform. Apple was off 1.3% to $553.64 after the iPad maker also received a downgrade to market preform from Wells Fargo.

Some fund managers dismissed declines on light volumes and tax-related selling from retail investors. Shortly after 11.30 a.m. the S&P 500 was slipping 0.63% to 1,836.71 while the Dow Jones was off 0.6% to 16,484.46. The Nasdaq was losing 0.7% to 4,148.34.

-- By Jane Searle in New York