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US: Stocks end week lower amid Trump woes


[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks fell on Friday, ending lower for the second day as White House turmoil continued with the ouster of controversial adviser Steve Bannon.

Stocks had made a bid to rebound from the lower open which followed a battering Thursday in the wake of a major terror attack in Spain, and amid what one analyst called "festering dysfunction" at the White House.

But the tepid rebound fizzled after the announcement that Mr Bannon was leaving his position - the fifth high-profile casualty in Mr Trump's inner circle in just six months.

The Dow dropped 0.35 per cent to close at 21,674.51, and was down nearly a full percentage point for the week.

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The broader S&P 500 fell nearly 0.2 per cent to end at 2,425.55, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq slipped less than 0.1 per cent to 6,216.53.

Nearly all sectors declined other than energy during the final trading session of the week.

"Washington has added a lot of drama to all of this," said Maris Ogg of Tower Bridge Advisors.

While "most of this is not of importance going forward," Ms Ogg said, "when there is not a lot to focus on, they focus on whatever is there." She blamed the August vacation season, which adds volatility when there are fewer participants trading, as well as the end of a quarterly earnings season heavy with results from struggling retailers.

Foot Locker plunged nearly 30 per cent after posting weaker-than-expected earnings, and the Gap slipped 0.1 per cent after gaining ground earlier following solid results.

Concerns remain about US President Donald Trump's agenda for tax reform and other pro-business measures, as his support from corporate America has evaporated following his heavily criticised response to a white supremacist rally in Virginia last weekend.

On Thursday, the White House denied rumours that Trump economic advisor Gary Cohn was planning to resign, but not before the news hit markets.

Mr Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs president, has been considered a leading contender to replace Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

Chris Low of FTN Financial said that upset may have past.

"I think ... the furor over Charlottesville and Trump's reaction is dying down and Gary Cohn is still at the White House," Mr Low told AFP.

"The bulk of the sell-off yesterday was fear that the most rational economic advisor in the administration was on the verge of walking out."