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US: Boeing weighs on Dow as US stocks await trade talks

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks mostly rose Thursday ahead of US-China trade talks, but Boeing weighed on the Dow amid expectations that the 737 Max will remain out of service for longer.

Investors took in stride a Wall Street Journal report that said Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to demand that US President Donald Trump rescind a ban on doing business with Huawei as among the conditions of relaunching formal negotiations.

White House economic advisory Larry Kudlow dismissed the report, saying "there are no preconditions to these talks".

Adam Sarhan of 50 Park Investment said investors have been cautious ahead of the talks, but that stocks could rally on progress.

"If we have a positive outcome we could see a scenario where stocks rally," Mr Sarhan said. "They don't need necessarily to find a deal."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost less than 0.1 per cent at 26,526.58.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.4 per cent to 2,924.92, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.7 per cent to 7,967.76.

Shares of Boeing slid 2.9 per cent after the Federal Aviation Administration identified a new issue with the 737 Max that could further push back the timetable to return the plane to the sky after two deadly crashes.

Another Dow company, Walgreens Boots Alliance, jumped 4.1 per cent after reporting better-than-expected third-quarter profits on increased prescription volume.

The Howard Hughes Corporation, a real estate company, soared 42.1 per cent as it confirmed that it hired bankers to advise it on strategic options, including a possible sale of the company.

Food company Conagra slumped 12.1 per cent on disappointment over its fiscal 2020 forecast and as fourth-quarter results were dented by heavy pricing promotion and "several isolated manufacturing-related challenges," among other issues.