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US: Stocks end mixed amid trade talks, shutdown angst

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks finished near flat following another choppy session characterised by positive sentiment on trade conflicts but marred by President Trump's threat of a government shutdown.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 0.2 per cent at 24,370.24.

The broad-based S&P 500 slipped less than 0.1 per cent to 2,636.78, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.2 per cent at 7,031.83.

US stocks opened higher after top Chinese and American negotiators held telephone conversations to set a timetable of trade talks and Mr Trump said on Twitter that concrete progress was imminent.

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Investors were also encouraged by reports that China agreed to cut tariffs on US autos to 15 per cent from 40 per cent.

But stocks tumbled into the red in the early afternoon Mr Trump's White House meeting with congressional Democratic leaders who refused to support Mr Trump's demand for US$5 billion he wants to build a wall between Mexico and the United States.

"If we don't get what we want one way or the other...I will shut down the government," an incensed Mr Trump told Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. "I am proud to shut down the government for border security."

Karl Haeling of LBBW said government shutdowns had not historically had a major impact on the US stock market.

"It certainly did not inspire any confidence that the people who are the top leaders of our country could engage in such in such childish behavior," Mr Haeling said.

Mr Haeling said there was still hope US stocks could rally into the end of the year but there were "a lot of underlying concerns" among investors.

Banking shares were under pressure amid anxiety over the global economic outlook. Shares of JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo all lost one per cent or more.

Google parent Alphabet added 1.2 per cent after Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai defended the company's data collection practices, and rejected Republican accusations the platform is biased against conservatives.

AFP