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Wall St flat after 4-day surge as retailers, trade talks disappoint

Reuters
NEW YORK
US stocks were little changed on Thursday after a four-day surge, as weakness in retailers due to tepid holiday season report from Macy’s Inc and concerns over progress in the US-China trade talks were offset by gains in Boeing.
Despite the S&P 500’s .SPX sluggish moves, the benchmark index is at three-week highs it hit after rallying more than 5 percent in the last four days on strong US jobs data, easing fears of higher interest rates and rising hopes of a trade deal.
But the trade-related optimism was dampened as China offered little details on key issues such as forced technology transfers, intellectual property rights, tariff barriers and cyber attacks, while saying the meeting set a “foundation” to resolve differences.
The lack of clarity, coupled with weak economic data in China and France, rekindled worries about global growth.
Closer home, reports from Macy’s and American Airlines added to fears of corporate profit growth shrinking, which was exacerbate after Apple’s sales warning last week.
Macy’s plunged 18.1 percent after the department store operator cut same-store sales forecast for the full year due to weak demand during mid-December.
The report, along with that of Kohl’s and others, pushed the S&P 500 retailers index 0.56 percent lower.
The technology index dropped 0.56 percent, with Apple down 0.4 percent and Microsoft 0.7 percent. Profit forecasts for technology companies have fallen more than any sector other than energy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 62.93 points, or 0.26 percent, at 23,942.05, the S&P 500 was up 3.87 points, or 0.15 percent, at 2,588.83 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 8.61 points, or 0.12 percent, at 6,965.69.
The trade-sensitive industrial stocks however rose 0.73 percent, lifted by Boeing, which gained 1.7 percent after the US Air Force accepted its long-delayed KC-46 air tanker.
American Airlines Group fell 7.4 percent after the No.1 US carrier cut its fourth-quarter profit and unit revenue forecasts. That weighed on other airlines as well.
Among the bright spots was Twitter, which rose 1.7 percent after Bank of America double upgraded the stock to “buy” from “underperform.”

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