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US: Stocks fall as markets await trade deal details

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks sagged on Monday following weak US construction data as investors awaited more details on an expected US-China trade deal.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.8 per cent to end the day at 25,819.65.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.4 per cent to close at 2,792.81, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.2 per cent to 7,577.57.

US stocks initially rose following reports the US and China could be close to a major trade agreement that would roll back some of the tariffs imposed in recent months.

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But stocks began reversing course after a 1500 GMT report said US construction spending fell 0.6 per cent in December, more than expected.

Stocks faced more pressure following news that congressional Democrats are broadening their probe of President Donald Trump and his associates, sending letters to 81 people and entities in Trump's current or former orbit.

FTN Financial's Chris Low said the construction report - while not especially surprising - came on the heels of other disappointing data from overseas market and suggest economic slowing overall

"We had a positive reaction on making progress on a trade deal the last couple of weeks," Mr Low said. "Now that it is almost done, we are starting to talk about where the trade deal would not be so great.

"We've probably already priced in the best news on that."

Big movers in the Dow included UnitedHealth Group, which lost 4.2 per cent, Walgreens Boots Alliance, which shed 2.8 per cent and McDonald's, which lost 2.4 per cent.

Large tech companies mostly rose, especially Facebook, which surged 3.1 per cent, and Amazon, which climbed 1.5 per cent.

Newmont Mining gained 1.9 per cent after rejecting a hostile takeover bid from Canadian rival Barrick Gold, saying its own merger with Goldcorp was a better option. Barrick gained 2.0 per cent, while Goldcorp jumped 3.6 per cent.

AFP