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Overnight Markets: Wall Street ends slightly higher after China turmoil

Telecoms, utilities and consumer staples led the gains, while information technology was the worst performing sector on the S&P 500.

 
Overnight Markets: Wall Street ends slightly higher after China turmoil

Wall Street closed modestly higher on Tuesday, snapping a three-day slump, as investors remained cautious after a sharp selloff that kicked off the year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 10 points, or less than 0.1%, to 17159. The S&P 500 gained four points, or 0.2%, to 2017 but the Nasdaq Composite dropped 12 points, or 0.2%, to 4891.

All three indexes opened slightly higher but turned negative in morning trade. Fears about a slowdown in China appeared to recede on Tuesday, but muted gains highlighted investors’ low expectations for 2016. In a bid to stabilise its markets, the People's Bank of China on Tuesday injected $20 billion into the financial system. Yesterday, the Shanghai composite swung in a 4% range before closing down about 0.3%.

In the US, telecoms, utilities and consumer staples led the gains, while information technology was the worst performing sector on the S&P 500 on Tuesday, followed by consumer discretionary and materials.

Oil companies also declined with Ensco PLC tumbling 6.4%, Transocean Ltd. shedding 3.1% and Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. down 4.8%.

Apple’s shares fell 2.5%, down for a second session on continuing fears about slowing demand for the iPhone and weakness in China.

Gun stocks rallied for a second day as investors bet that new restrictions announced by President Barack Obama not only wouldn’t deter sales but would propel them. Smith & Wesson shares surged 11% and Sturm, Ruger & Co. climbed 6.8%.

Gilead Sciences Inc rose 1.7% after its experimental hepatitis B drug was found safer than, yet as effective, as its approved treatment Viread. Wal Mart Stores Inc shares were up 2.3%.

In Asia, stocks retreated on Wednesday in morning session after China set a weaker fix for the yuan, underscoring concern that the region’s largest economy may struggle to regain momentum.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was down 0.5%, after losing almost 3% over the past two sessions. Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average 225 plunged 1.21%, while the Kospi index fell 0.72% in Seoul.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index tumbled 1.2%, led by technology and mining stocks. In China, the Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.50%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.74%.

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