US stocks pressured by trade-war worries

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump hold a joint news conference, March 17, 2017.
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump hold a joint news conference, March 17, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished modestly lower on Friday (March 17) as worries about international trade hung over the first meeting between President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

At a White House press conference with Merkel, Trump denied he was an isolationist, but pledged to fight for "fair" trade with Germany and other countries. Merkel said she favoured "win-win" trade agreements.

Meanwhile, finance ministers and central bankers from major economies were looking for reassurance from US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the Group of 20 meeting in Germany, following Trump's tough rhetoric.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended a quiet session down 0.1 per cent at 20,916.68.

The broad-based S&P 500 dipped 0.1 per cent to close at 2,378.21, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index was essentially flat at 5,901.00.

Large gainers in the blue-chip index included Boeing and McDonald's, while banks JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs both declined.

Amgen slumped 7 per cent after it released clinical data that showed its Repatha drug, in concert with other treatments, reduced the chance of a major cardiovascular event by 20 per cent.

Analysts said the finding was solid, but a bit underwhelming given lofty expectations for the drug.

Tiffany rose 3 per cent after reporting a three percent decline in fourth quarter net income to $158 million that translated into US$1.45 per share, beating expectations by seven cents.

Adobe Systems advanced 4.1 per cent as it reported a 36.3 per cent rise in first-quarter earnings to US$398.4 million (S$558 million) on record revenues thanks to growth in cloud-oriented software.