US STOCKS-Trade worries drag on Wall St; tech stocks…

By Shreyashi Sanyal

Aug 30 – U.S. stocks dropped on Thursday, after four straight sessions of gains, weighed down by concerns over the U.S.-China trade war, even though gains in technology stocks helped limit losses.

Washington has proposed slapping tariffs on a further $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, which will come into effect next month after a public comment period ends on Wednesday, Sept. 5.

Metal prices fell as the Sino-U.S. trade tensions upstaged optimism that the United States and Canada could clinch a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The S&P materials index sank 1.21 percent, the most among the 11 major S&P sectors. Trade-sensitive industrials fell 0.35 percent, led by Caterpillar’s 1.3 percent decline.

However big technology stocks provided support. Facebook was up 1.8 percent and Apple rose 0.6 percent.

Amazon rose as much as 1.4 percent to a record high of $2,025.57, moving closer to joining Apple in the $1 trillion market cap club. Amazon was last up 1 percent.

“I would never bet against the tech leaders, because every single time the markets have ticked down the tech stocks seemed to have eventually gained enough to close the markets higher and today should be no different,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network in Waltham, Massachusetts.

“The (dip in the markets) is no surprise given the recent run-up, we have seen a pretty consistent appreciation in the past few days and investors are just catching breath before the long weekend ahead.”

At 11:17 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 75.40 points, or 0.29 percent, at 26,049.17, the S&P 500 was down 5.44 points, or 0.19 percent, at 2,908.60 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 2.03 points, or 0.03 percent, at 8,107.65.

Three of the 11 S&P sectors were higher, led by the utilities index’s 0.30 percent rise.

Dollar Tree slid 12 percent, the most on the S&P, after reporting lower margins and forecasting a disappointing full-year profit.

Dialysis services provider DaVita fell 9.1 percent after California passed a bill that aims to curb access to insurance coverage for kidney patients.

Signet Jewelers soared 28.2 percent after the company topped sales and profit estimates and raised its full-year sales forecast.

Commerce Department data showed consumer spending increased strongly in July and a Labor Department report showed the labor market remained robust, despite a rise in jobless claims last week.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.87-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.39-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 29 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 66 new highs and 21 new lows. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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