New York - US stocks opened lower Wednesday amid persistent concerns over the eurozone as Cyprus moves to implement the EU-IMF rescue plan.

In the first five minutes of trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 114.71 (0.79 percent) to fall to 14,444.94.

The broad-based S&P 500 sank 11.65 (0.74 percent) to 1,552.12, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 25.15 (0.77

percent) to 3,227.33.

The retreat followed strong gains Tuesday that resulted in a record high for the Dow and a near-all-time high to the S&P 500.

Patrick O'Hare of characterised Tuesday's rally as having a “facade of bullishness” and noted that the rally was led by “defensive-oriented” sectors, such as health care and utilities.

“Follow-through has been lacking this morning for reasons that are both convenient and clear,” O'Hare wrote. “Headlines out of Europe are largely to blame.”

In Europe there were fresh signs of political instability in Italy, weak growth in France and continued uncertainty in Cyprus, where the banks are expected to reopen Thursday after being shutdown to engineer a rescue. - Sapa-AFP