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Overnight Markets: Wall Street inches lower on trade worries

Overnight Markets: Wall Street inches lower on trade worries

Wall Street closed slightly lower on Thursday, led by technology and high-dividend sectors amid renewed trade tensions between US and China and rising oil prices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 55 points, or 0.22%, to 24,714, the S&P 500 lost two points, or 0.09%, to 2,720 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 16 points, or 0.21%, to 7,382.

Comments by US President Donald Trump that China “has become very spoiled on trade,” cast doubt on his efforts to avoid a tariff war between the world’s two largest economies, increasing investor jitters.

The S&P Energy index was up 1.3% as unrest in the Middle East suggested a reduction of oil supply and sent crude prices to their highest level in three-and-a-half years. Chevron Corp. added 0.8%, while Occidental Petroleum Corp. was up 1.3% and Marathon Oil Corp. gained 2.2%.

Small-cap Russell 2000 index closed at a record high for a second day in a row.

So-called defensive stocks were among the worst performer among the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500 as investors continued to monitor a rise in bond yields. Rate-sensitive telecom, real estate and utility shares were down.

Cisco Systems’ stock was the biggest drag on the S&P 500, dropping 3.8% a day after reporting services revenue that missed expectations. The S&P 500 technology sector was down 0.5%.

Walmart shares fell 1.9% after the company said profit margins remained under pressure due to price cuts and higher freight costs, even as sales and earnings came in stronger than expected.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. slumped 12.4% after reporting a drop in first-quarter sales and cutting its outlook.

In Asia, shares traded mixed on Friday in morning session following lacklustre Wall Street overnight amid investor concerns over US-China trade talks.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 0.38% and the broader Topix edged higher by 0.32%. Elsewhere, the Kospi rose by 0.39%. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 reversed early gains to shed 0.18%.

Greater China markets were steady in early trade. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index eked out gains of 0.05%. The Shanghai composite shed 0.06%.

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