US stocks end mixed as trade worries weigh on sentiment


NEW YORK (AFP) - Worries about President Donald Trump's trade policy offset a spate of largely positive US economic data Thursday (March 15), resulting in a mixed session for US stocks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.5 per cent to 24,873.66.

The broad-based S&P 500 500 lost 0.1 per cent at 2,747.33, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.1 per cent to 7,481.74.

Analysts pointed to lingering concerns over trade with Trump economic advisor Peter Navarro saying the US president would soon consider fresh punitive measures against Beijing over its "theft" of US intellectual property.

US stocks were also hit by a mid-afternoon report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had subpoenaed the Trump Organisation, which manages the President's business empire, in connection with Mueller's probe into Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential election.

US economic data showed a slight drop in jobless claims and a gain in manufacturing activity in the New York region, although homebuilder sentiment dipped.

Alibaba jumped 3.5 per cent following a news report the online retail giant plans a stock listing in China.

Monsanto sank 4.8 per cent following a Bloomberg report that Justice Department antitrust officials are balking at the company's proposed US$66 billion (S$86 billion) takeover by German company Bayer.

Toy makers Mattel fell 2.3 per cent and Hasbro 0.4 per cent after bankrupt retail giant Toys 'R' Us announced plans to liquidate its US stores.

Ford climbed 0.6 per cent after it unveiled plans for additional sport utility vehicles and a more expansive group of hybrid and electric models.