Wall Street closed little changed on Wednesday, as tensions in Ukraine and Russia and a failed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile offset gains in consumer staples shares.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14 points, or 0.08%, to 16,443. The S&P 500 flat at 1,920, and the Nasdaq Composite added two points, or 0.05%, to 4,355.
Telecom services sector was the worst performing industry, with AT&T (T.N) and Verizon (VZ.N) down on news that Sprint (S.N), facing regulatory resistance, gave up its bid for T-Mobile (TMUS.N).
NATO reported that Russia has around 20,000 combat-ready troops on the eastern border of Ukraine that it could use to invade. Further souring the mood, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Moscow's biggest economic response to Western sanctions so far.
Walgreen Co (WAG.N) shares declined 14.3% after the largest US drug retailer said it would not use a full takeover of Europe's biggest pharmacy chain, Alliance Boots, to domicile overseas - a move that would shield Walgreen from US taxes.
On the upside, Molson Coors Brewing Company (TAP.N) rose 5.8% after better-than-expected earnings, helping lead consumer staples companies higher.
Twenty-First Century Fox Corp (FOXA.O) was another winner, with its shares up 3.3%, a day after the company pulled its $80 billion offer to buy Time Warner Inc (TWX.N). Time Warner slid 12.9%.
In Asia, shares declined on Thursday in late morning trade after Australia’s unemployment rate unexpectedly climbed to a 12-year high and as tensions mounted over Ukraine.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.4% to 146 as of 9:58 a.m. in Hong Kong, after rising 0.2% earlier. Japan’s Topix index dropped 0.2% after the yen gained 0.5% against the dollar yesterday.
South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.4%, Taiwan’s Taiex index lost 0.2% and Singapore’s Straits Times Index declined 0.3%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 0.7%, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index retreated 0.5%.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 0.4% and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index was little changed.