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US: Stocks dip amid doubts on Brexit, China trade deal

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Wall Street stocks finished modestly lower on Wednesday following a disappointing US retail sales report and amid questions over Brexit talks and the state of US-China trade relations.

[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks finished modestly lower on Wednesday following a disappointing US retail sales report and amid questions over Brexit talks and the state of US-China trade relations.

US retail sales experienced a surprise drop in September, data showed, raising questions about the US consumer, a pillar of the American and global economies.

Analysts also pointed to doubts about whether revived efforts between British leader Boris Johnson and European Union officials will yield an agreement that can win support in Britain.

Market watchers also cited Chinese unhappiness after the US House of Representatives passed a bill defending civil rights in Hong Kong.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.1 per cent to close at 27,001.98.

The broad-based S&P 500 declined 0.2 per cent to 2,989.69, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.3 per cent to 8,124.18.

Stocks are not "down very much but it suggests to me that some of the euphoria of the last week or so is fading," said FTN Financial's Chris Low.

"That's probably partly because in addition to bad retail sales, there are growing doubts about the China trade deal and a Brexit compromise."

Among individual companies, Bank of America climbed 1.5 per cent after reporting better-than-expected results on higher profits in consumer banking and most other divisions.

United Airlines gained 2.1 per cent as it lifted its full-year profit targets on strong consumer demand.

General Motors won 1.1 per cent after it reached a preliminary deal with leaders of the United Auto Workers to end a month-long strike. However, the agreement must still be ratified by a majority of the union's members.

Auto suppliers that have been affected by the strike also rallied, with American Axle & Manufacturing rising 2.1 per cent, Tenneco 9.1 per cent and Adient 2.8 per cent.

Petroleum-linked shares had a bad session. Exxon Mobil lost 1.7 per cent, Schlumberger 2.6 per cent and Apache 1.9 per cent.

AFP