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US: Oil shares outperform on flat day for Wall Street stocks

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[NEW YORK] Petroleum-linked shares rallied Wednesday while pharma companies were under pressure as Wall Street stocks finished the session little changed.

"The market is very subdued this week, taking sort of a pause and a breather before news around the G20 and the debate on interest rates," said Nate Thooft, senior portfolio manager of Manulife Asset Management.

All three indices had been in positive territory most of the day, but the Dow and S&P 500 dipped into the red near the end of the session.

Investors are hoping that G20 talks between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will yield progress toward resolving the year-long trade dispute.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down less than 0.1 per cent at 25,536.82.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.1 per cent to settle at 2,913.78, while the tech rich Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.3 per cent to 7,909.97.

Sales of US durable goods fell 1.3 per cent to US$243.4 billion in May, US data showed, with the crisis involving the Boeing 737 MAX weighing on the figures.

Petroleum producers Apache and Devon Energy advanced around 3 per cent each after a bullish US oil inventory report lifted oil prices.

Chip companies were another strong sector following a healthy earnings report from Micron Technology, which surged 13.3 per cent after reporting better-than-expected third-quarter earnings.

Other chip companies also advanced, including Western Digital, which gained 7.3 per cent and Nvidia, which gained 5.1 per cent.

But pharmaceutical companies were under pressure, with Dow member Pfizer and Merck both losing about two per cent.

An exception among drug producers was AbbVie, which jumped 3.5 per cent a day after unveiling a US$63 billion takeover of Allergan. Shares of AbbVie had fallen sharply on Tuesday following the announcement.

General Mills slumped 4.5 per cent after fourth-quarter sales missed analyst expectations, due in part to lower sales in North America and some other regions.

But FedEx climbed 2.5 per cent after it reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter profits, even as it warned that continued trade conflicts were likely to pressure profits in fiscal 2020.

AFP