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Dow and S&P 500 finish lower as congressional testimony weighs on Wall Street

Markets were unsettled by the US-North Korean nuclear summit, which is underway in Vietnam, and rising tensions between India and Pakistan
Nasdaq sign on NYC street
The tech-laden Nasdaq clawed its way into the green, finishing up 5 points to hit 7,554

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 finished lower on Wednesday as comments from US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell weighed on market sentiment.

Speaking before Congress, Lighthizer said challenges lay ahead in the ongoing negotiations between the US and China over a trade pact.

Powell made an appearance on Capitol Hill for Day Two of testimony about monetary policy and the strength of the US economy. In his address, he said the Fed would stop shrinking its $4 trillion portfolio of bonds and other assets.

By the closing bell, the Dow ended 72.82 points down or 0.28% lower, at 25,985, hurt by UnitedHealth Group Inc (NYSE:UNH), Home Depot Inc (NYSE:HD) and DowDuPont Inc (NYSE:DWDP).

The S&P 500 tech sector dropped 0.1%, with Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX) finishing down.

Mylan NV (NASDAQ:MYL), UnitedHealth and Western Digital Corp (NASDAQ:WDC) put pressure on the S&P 500, which shed 0.1% or 1.52 points, to hit 2,792.

Elsewhere, the tech-laden Nasdaq clawed its way into the green, adding 0.1% or 5.2 points, to 7,554, lifted by Mercadolibre (NASDAQ:MELI) and Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA).

Small-cap companies advanced a little, with the Russell 2000 index ending up 3.6 points at 1,581.

Up in Canada, Toronto’s TSX finished higher, adding 6.4 points to hit 16,074.

1:30 pm: US stocks fall after trade rep Lighthizer says challenges face US-China trade pact

Wall Street swung between gains and losses in afternoon trade after US trade representative Robert Lighthizer suggested a trade pact between the US and China is not right around the corner.

Lighthizer hit market sentiment by saying the US’s challenges with China are “too serious” to be met simply by additional purchases of US goods by China.

Markets also remained unsettled by the US-North Korean nuclear summit, which is underway in Vietnam, and rising tensions between India and Pakistan.

At the time of writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 26.5 points at 26,031, led lower by UnitedHealth Group, Home Depot and DowDuPont.

After turning positive for a brief spell, the S&P 500 fell 0.03% to hit 2,792 while the tech-laden Nasdaq broke into the green and added 0.28 points to hover at 7,549.

But Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) all traded lower.

Elsewhere, the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks, which is less exposed to global geopolitical concerns, stayed in positive territory, adding 0.18% to 1,580.

Up in Canada, Toronto’s TSX remained little changed, nudging up by 0.13 points to 16,068.

10:00 am: Wall Street opens lower on weak corporate guidance, geopolitical concerns

Wall Street opened lower Wednesday amid weak guidance from major corporations and escalating geopolitical concerns in South Asia with India and Pakistan both saying they shot down each other’s fighter jets. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 43.82 points, or 0.17% to 26,014.16, led lower by Home Depot, UnitedHealth Group, and DowDuPoint Inc.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 was also in the red, hovering at 2,788, led lower by Mylan NV, Micron Technology and Brighthouse Financial.

The Nasdaq Composite index which was down 19.87 points, tried to claw into the green and was hovering at 7,529.43.

Elsewhere, the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks traded flat at 1,576.73.

7.15 am: US stocks seen starting lower while European markets are also seeing red

US shares are set to start Wednesday in the red after a negative finish last night, while European shares are also tracking lower as geopolitical concerns weigh on sentiment.

Yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down nearly 34 points, or 0.1%, at 26,057, with top laggards including Caterpillar Inc (NYSE:CAT) and DIY titan Home Depot Inc (NYSE:HD).

The tech-laden Nasdaq index inched lower, down 5 points, or 0.07%, to finish at 7,549, while the S&P 500 index finished around two points lower to close at 2,793 yesterday.

In Canada, Toronto’s S&P/TSX Index closed flat, up 10 points or 0.07%, to reach 16,068.

In US futures today, the Dow Jones is off 66 points, while the Nasdaq futures are down around 15. Futures for the  S&P 500 futures are down around six points.

In Asia overnight, sentiment was on the up. The Nikkei 225 rose over 107 points at 21,556, while the Shanghai Composite Index was also up - adding over 12 points at 2,953.

In London, the FTSE 100 is down around 55 points, while the German DAX is around 56 points lower.

Connor Campbell, analyst at Spreadex, summed up trade so far, saying the 'geopolitical stew' had left a bitter taste in the mouths of investors.

“Tensions ahead of the Vietnamese summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, the lack of tangible progress between the US and China despite the trade talk deadline delay, the ongoing and never-ending Brexit disaster, the prospect of an explosive testimony from Michael Cohen, an aggressive flare-up in relations between Pakistan and India: there were plenty of reasons for the markets to be in a bad mood," he said

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