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US: Wall Street edges lower as Iran tensions mount

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street had a subdued open on Tuesday as markets digested Washington's latest round of sanctions on top Iranian officials including supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Investors also remained cautious ahead of this week's highly anticipated meeting between US President Donald Trump and China's Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit (G-20) in Japan, which could signal whether a resolution is likely in the two countries' trade war.

A series of Federal Reserve policymakers are also due to speak on Tuesday, possibly dropping hints as to the central bank's next move on interest rates.

Ten minutes into the day's trading session, the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.2 per cent at 26,675.67.

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Meanwhile, the broader S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq had both fallen 0.3 per cent to 2,937.68 and 7,982.50 respectively.

"The seeming lack of interest is being attributed to a wait-and-see mentality in front of the G20 summit this weekend," analyst Patrick O'Hare wrote at Briefing.com.

"Both China and the US seem to be trying to rein in expectations ahead of the meeting."

Expectations for a Fed rate cut pushed US stocks higher last week, with the S&P cresting at a fresh record close.

"Stock Market is heading for one of the best months (June) in the history of our Country," Mr Trump said early Tuesday on Twitter. "Thank you Mr. President!"

The Dow is up 7.5 per cent so far in June, reversing May's losses and leaving it just below a record close set 8 months ago.

Economic data due to be released later Tuesday include an index of consumer confidence index and a monthly report on new home sales.

Trump on Monday announced new sanctions on Iran after that country last week shot down a US drone, claiming it had entered Iranian air space, raising fears the two countries are inching toward a military confrontation.

The latest round of US sanctions meant the "permanent closure of the path to diplomacy" with Washington, the Islamic republic's foreign ministry said.

Shares in botox maker Allergan soared 27.8 per cent after US biopharmaceutical Abbvie announced plans to acquire it. Shares in Abbvie were down 14.3 per cent.

AFP