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US: Dow ends choppy day slightly lower; Nasdaq gains


[NEW YORK] US stocks ended a rocky week on a muted note Friday, with the Dow dipping and Nasdaq advancing as fears about a global economic slowdown due to China tested sentiment.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 11.76 points (0.07 per cent) at 16,643.01.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 1.21 (0.06 per cent) at 1,988.87, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 15.62 (0.32 per cent) at 4,828.32.

"We certainly arrested the selling that we saw at the end of last week and the beginning of this week," said Mace Blicksilver, director at Marblehead Asset Management.

"There is a lot of concern about slowing growth, and we still don't know what the Fed is going to do," he said, referring to the Federal Reserve's plan to raise interest rates this year.

Moody's slashed its 2016 growth forecast for the Group of 20 economies to 2.8 per cent from 3.1 per cent due to the hit from a slowing Chinese economy.

US Federal Reserve Vice-Chair Stanley Fischer told CNBC it was "too early to tell" whether the markets turmoil sparked by China has lessened the argument for a long-expected increase in the federal funds rate.

Petroleum-linked stocks were strong as oil prices rallied sharply for a second day in a row. Dow member Chevron jumped 3.6 per cent, oil services titan Schlumberger added 3.0 per cent and Apache gained 4.8 per cent.

Several leading tech companies also rose, including Facebook (+1.4 per cent) and Tesla Motors (+2.3 per cent). Apple gained 0.3 per cent.

Videogame developer Activision Blizzard and airline United Continental both jumped following an S&P Dow Jones Indices announcement that they would be added to the S&P 500.

Activision advanced 4.6 per cent, while United surged 7.1 per cent.

Metals and oil producer Freeport-McMoRan rose 3.0 per cent as activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed an 8.5 per cent stake in the company. Mr Icahn said in a securities filing that he would engage Freeport management on strategy and capital structure and may seek a board seat.

Bond prices edged up. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell to 2.18 per cent from 2.19 per cent on Thursday, while the 30-year dropped to 2.92 per cent from 2.93 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.