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US:Wall St opens lower as political uncertainty weighs

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[WASHINGTON] US stocks opened lower on Monday as investors sought fresh catalysts after a strong jobs report last week, while uncertainty over President Donald Trump's policies continued to weigh.

Investors are wary about Mr Trump's focus on isolationist policies including travel restrictions to the United States. A federal judge on Friday blocked a travel ban on seven mainly Muslim nations. "The market is looking for direction from the White House on policy," said Albert Brenner, director of asset allocation strategy at People's United Wealth Management in Bridgeport, Connecticut. "When you see the markets pause, it signals investors are becoming more rational and are waiting to see some concrete evidence that drove the market higher after the election." Markets rallied sharply after Trump's election victory in November, riding on hopes that his plans including simpler regulations, higher infrastructure spending and tax cuts will boost the economy.

However, Goldman Sachs economist Alec Phillips said in a note that Mr Trump's agenda presents risks as tax cuts and infrastructure funding may boost growth, but may be offset by negative effects of restrictions on trade and immigration.

At 9:36 a.m. ET (1436 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average was down 32.04 points, or 0.16 per cent, at 20,039.42.

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The S&P 500 was down 5.23 points, or 0.22 per cent, at 2,292.19.

The Nasdaq Composite was down 14.51 points, or 0.26 per cent, at 5,652.26.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with the materials index's 0.33 percent fall leading the decliners.

Microsoft's 0.7 percent fall weighed the most on the S&P and the Nasdaq.

Oil was slightly lower but steadied around US$57 per barrel as rising tensions between the United States and Iran and OPEC supply cuts were countered by ample inventories and signs that higher prices will revive US output.