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US: Wall Street flat as home improvement retailers get Amazoned

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[NEW YORK] Stocks ended little changed on Wall Street on Thursday as a deal between Sears and Amazon weighed on home improvement retailers while gains in Microsoft helped buoy the Nasdaq.

Retailers and appliance makers fell after Sears said it would sell its Kenmore home appliances on Amazon and integrate the brand's smart gadgets with the online giant's Alexa digital assistant.

Sears was up 10.6 per cent at US$9.60 and Amazon shares rose 0.2 per cent.

Home Depot fell 4.1 per cent, shaving off 40 points from the Dow and weighing the most on the S&P 500. Retailers Lowes and Best Buy, as well as appliance maker Whirlpool, were down between 3.9 and 5.6 per cent.

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Market voices on:

"I think a lot of earnings (beats) are due to the low-interest-rate environment. Once you see a tick up in rates, the earnings are going to be affected. But right now, it looks like it's going to continue. Earnings overall are very strong," said Anthony Conroy, president at Abel Noser in New York.

Microsoft shares rose 0.9 per cent in after-hours trading to US$74.89 after it reported a quarterly profit that more than doubled, helped by a tax benefit and strong growth in its cloud business.

Overall earnings continue to beat expectations and major indexes closed Thursday at or near all-time highs. Analysts are estimating an 8.6 per cent rise in second-quarter earnings and a 4.6 per cent increase in revenue for the S&P 500 companies from a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 28.97 points, or 0.13 per cent, to close at 21,611.78, the S&P 500 lost 0.38 point, or 0.02 per cent, to 2,473.45 and the Nasdaq Composite added 4.96 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 6,390.00.

Despite the market's continued attention on business-friendly signs out of Washington, stocks did not react to the White House's announcement it had withdrawn or removed from consideration more than 800 proposed regulations that were never finalised during the Obama administration.

"It's not going to make things any better, it just won't make them worse," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago.

"I see no tangible evidence that these regulation pullbacks have helped the economy one iota."

T-Mobile gained as much as 3.3 per cent after the wireless carrier's quarterly results topped analysts' estimates, but reversed course in the afternoon and closed down 1.4 per cent at US$61.12. Verizon rose 1.8 per cent and AT&T added 1.1 per cent.

Qualcomm fell 4.9 per cent after the chipmaker's forecast missed estimates and several Apple suppliers filed a lawsuit accusing Qualcomm of taking additional licensing money over the assemblage of iPhones.

Property and casualty insurer Travelers closed down 1.5 per cent after reporting a drop in quarterly profit.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.01-to-one ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.14-to-one ratio favoured advancers.

About 5.92 billion shares changed hands in US exchanges, compared with the 6.35 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

REUTERS

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