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US: Wall St ends near flat, but financials climb with yields

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[NEW YORK] US stocks ended little changed on Friday as financials rose with bond yields, while news that President Donald Trump instructed aides to proceed with tariffs on about US$200 billion of Chinese products limited gains.

The S&P financial index was up 0.7 per cent, leading percentage gains among sectors. Benchmark US Treasury yields rose above 3 per cent earlier in the day but were last off those levels.

At the same time, the rate-sensitive S&P utilities index fell 0.5 per cent.

A source familiar with the White House decision also said the timing for activating the additional tariffs was unclear. The move came despite Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's attempts to restart talks with Beijing.

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"There are a lot of headlines that have come out, people have been pretty active all week, and it's Friday afternoon. You don't really want to add additional risk when you don't know what news might hit over the weekend," said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 8.68 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 26,154.67, the S&P 500 gained 0.83 point, or 0.03 per cent, to 2,905.01 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.67 points, or 0.05 per cent, to 8,010.04.

For the week, the Dow was up 0.9 per cent, the S&P 500 was up 1.2 per cent and the Nasdaq rose 1.4 per cent.

Also weighing on utilities was NiSource, which tumbled 11.7 per cent after fire investigators said they suspected a unit of the company, Columbia Gas, was linked to a series of gas explosions in Boston suburbs on Thursday.

Shares of insurer Travelers were up 0.9 per cent as analysts cut loss estimates from Hurricane Florence as the storm weakened.

Walmart lost 0.6 per cent after Goldman Sachs raised questions around the purchase of a majority stake in India's Flipkart.

Adobe Systems rose 2.3 per cent, a day after the company topped quarterly revenue and profit expectations.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.04-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.12-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 51 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 118 new highs and 68 new lows.

About 6.2 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges. That compares with the 6.1 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

REUTERS

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