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Overnight Markets: Wall Street mixed ahead of Trump press conference

Overnight Markets: Wall Street mixed ahead of Trump press conference

US stocks closed mixed on Tuesday, with the Nasdaq notching its fourth record close in a row, amid caution ahead of a news conference by US President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones industrial average declined 0.2%, to 19,856, while the S&P 500 ended flat at 2,269, as gains in healthcare and financials offset a drop in energy shares. Nasdaq, on the other hand, rose 0.4% to 5,552.

The dollar slid 0.3% to 115.84 yen, and was last flat against a basket of currencies at 102.00 after uncertainty ahead of Trump's comments on Wednesday dampened demand for the dollar.

Analysts said traders were watching hearings for his choices for senior administration posts, which started on Tuesday with US Senator Jeff Sessions, the president-elect's choice for attorney general.

Commodities such as copper gained on further signs of a pick-up in China's economy. Oil prices were lower on the day but off their weakest levels of the previous session when they fell nearly 4%.

The Down Jones was weighed down by shares of Merck & Co. and Exxon Mobil Corp., which fell 1.93% and 1.28% respectively.

Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. shot up 6.8% after announcing a couple of deals.

General Motors Co. shares closed up 3.7% after the car maker forecast a 2017 outlook above Wall Street expectations.

Ascena Retail Group Inc. shares fell 10% after the company warned that it will report a wider-than-expected loss after disappointing holiday sales led to increased promotions.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is said to be in talks to sell its satellite business Terra Bella to startup rival Planet Labs Inc. Yahoo Inc. shares rose 2.3% after plans were disclosed Monday afternoon in which Chief Executive Marissa Mayer and co-founder David Filo resigned from the board of directors.

In Asia, shares were positive on Wednesday in morning session as investors prepared for Trump's first full press conference as president-elect.

Down Under, the ASX 200 gained 0.39%, led strongly by its materials play. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.34% as the yen weakened to trade above 116. Across the Korean strait, the Kospi added 0.37%.

 Mainland Chinese shares were nearly flat, with the Shanghai composite unchanged and the Shenzhen composite down 0.025%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng surged 0.62% in early trade.

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