US stocks edge higher amid trade worries

A trader works on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, March 14, 2018. — Reuter pic
A trader works on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, March 14, 2018. — Reuter pic

NEW YORK, March 15 — Wall Street stocks were modestly higher early today as the benefit of solid US economic data was partially offset by lingering worries over US trade policy under President Donald Trump.

About 45 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 24,867.00, up 0.4 per cent.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.2 per cent to 2,754.50, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index had gained a hair at 7,498.52.

US data showed a slight drop in jobless claims and a gain in manufacturing activity in the New York region, although homebuilder sentiment dipped.

US stocks are down for the week, a dynamic that often attracts bargain hunting.

Analysts pointed to investor unease following a series of moves by the Trump administration on trade that have aroused fears of a trade war.

These steps include the imposition of tariffs on imported steel and aluminium and the replacement of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who is thought to have harsher views on trade.

Among individual stocks, Alibaba jumped 3.5 per cent following a news report the online retail giant plans a stock listing in China.

Retailers Williams-Sonoma and Dollar General both rose about four per cent following solid earnings reports.

Toy makers Mattel fell 2.1 per cent and Hasbro 0.5 per cent after bankrupt retail giant Toys ‘R’ Us announced plans to liquidate its US stores. — AFP

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