Wall Street heads lower as uncertainty sets in ahead of G20 Summit

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell in choppy trading on Thursday as uncertainty over the outcome of a high-stakes meeting between the United States and China at the upcoming G20 Summit kept investors on the sidelines.

President Donald Trump sent conflicting signals on a potential trade deal with China after he said Washington was close to making a deal but is not sure he wants to do it and likes where things stand now.

Adding to the woes, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who has advocated a tough stance against China, would be attending the attending G20 summit, a source told Reuters.

“There is so much conflicting commentary from the administration that something definitive has to happen for the market to really get excited about it,” said Michael Antonelli, managing director, institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

“The market is tense and waiting for some type of hint that we are closer to a resolution.”

The fall in markets comes a day after Wall Street’s main indexes rallied to close more than 2 percent higher on a dovish tone by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

He said the policy rate is now “just below” so-called neutral rate, comments that markets read as signs of Fed’s tightening cycle drawing to a close.

Ten of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were in the red, with the rate sensitive financials sector .SPSY falling 0.68 percent.

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N), Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) and Morgan Stanley (MS.N) fell between 0.8 percent and 1.7 percent.

The Fed is set to release its minutes from its Nov.7-8 policy meeting at 2:00 p.m. ET, which could offer more clues on the path of future rate hikes.

At 11:43 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 72.05 points, or 0.28 percent, at 25,294.38, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 8.76 points, or 0.32 percent, at 2,735.03 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 25.67 points, or 0.35 percent, at 7,265.93.

Trade-sensitive industrial stocks .SPLRCI fell 0.20 percent and chipmakers, which get a large portion of their revenue from China, dropped, pushing the technology sector .SPLRCT 0.9 percent lower.

The energy sector .SPNY was up 0.7 percent, the only one trading positive.

Nielsen Holdings Plc (NLSN.N) gained 3.0 percent after a report that the TV ratings company received buyout interest from a private equity group Madison Dearborn.

McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N) rose 0.9 percent after brokerage Morgan Stanley upgraded stock to “overweight”, saying the fast-food chain’s store modernization efforts will pay off in 2019.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.13-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.27-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 11 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 29 new highs and 44 new lows.

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