US stocks end choppy session mostly lower

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NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished a choppy session mostly lower on Friday (Oct 19) despite a good group earnings, amid lingering volatility after a deep pullback the prior day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average led the major indices, winning 0.3 per cent to end the week at 25,444.34.

The broad-based S&P 500 slipped 0.1 per cent to 2,767.78, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.5 per cent to close at 7,449.03.

All three major indices slumped more than 1 per cent on Thursday due to a panoply of issues including uncertainty about US-Saudi relations following the suspected murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"In a week when developments seem more mixed than bearish, markets are struggling to stabilize from an early-October shock that began in Bonds and ended in Equities," JPMorgan Chase said in a research note.

The analysts said earnings would be a positive catalyst for stocks over the next two or three weeks, but warned of a medium-term hit after the period of "peak" earnings growth ends.

Consumer products conglomerate Procter & Gamble shares surged 8.9 per cent after reporting its best sales growth in five years. The consumer products giant also said it plans additional price increases on items in the US and some overseas markets due to higher material costs and the strong dollar.

Chemical firm DowDuPont fell 1.9 per cent after it wrote down US$4.6 billion (S$6.3 billion) in assets in its agricultural unit, which has suffered due to weak sales in the US and Latin America.

Toymaker Hasbro shed 0.5 per cent as it confirmed job cuts in the wake of the retail shakeout, which included the demise of the iconic Toys 'R' US chain. Hasbro, which had 5,400 employees at the end of 2017, said the cuts would "impact a single digit percentage of our global workforce."

EBay sank 8.9 per cent following a downgrade from Stifel, which pointed to commentary from PayPal suggesting weak business conditions at the online marketplace.

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