US stocks end near flat amid trade war uncertainty

Traders work on the floor at the closing bell of the Dow Industrial Average at the New York Stock Exchange.
Traders work on the floor at the closing bell of the Dow Industrial Average at the New York Stock Exchange. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished little changed on Wednesday (Sept 12) following a volatile session amid lingering trade war anxiety, while Apple shares fell following its latest product launches.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 0.1 per cent to 25,998.92.

The broad-based S&P 500 added a hair at 2,888.92, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.2 per cent to 7,954.23.

Trade war angst has weighed on stocks for months and caused more ripples Wednesday.

Stocks rallied to session highs soon after a midday Wall Street Journal report that US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had invited Chinese officials for a bilateral meeting.

But the market pulled back a bit later following a Federal Reserve report chronicling rising anxiety across the United States about trade tensions, with some businesses planning to curtail capital spending amid the fog.

A new lobby group called Americans for Free Trade announced plans to campaign against tariffs in the upcoming mid-term elections.

Apple, which jumped Tuesday in anticipation of a big company event, dipped 1.4 percent after unveiling updated versions its priciest iPhones, along with a new smartwatch that allows users to take their own electrocardiograms.

Gilead Sciences jumped 2.5 per cent after announcing positive clinical results for a new treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

Large banks were generally weak, with JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo all falling at least one percent as US Treasury bond yields declined.

Semiconductor shares fell after Goldman Sachs downgraded both Micron Technology and Lam Research, which lost 4.3 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively.

Chinese automaker NIO, a would-be rival to California's electric car producer Tesla, climbed 0.3 per cent in its first session of trading in New York US wholesale inflation fell for the third month in a row in August on weak wholesale margins for machinery and equipment, according to Labour Department data.

The report comes ahead of the much-anticipated consumer price data due on Thursday.