U.S. stock indexes moved slightly lower on Thursday as investors moved to the sidelines with mixed messages and no concrete signs of progress on U.S.–China relations.
This was a day after stocks sold off on areport that a phase 1 U.S.-China deal was not likely to happen this year. As aresult, investors were wary of putting further bets on a trade deal and keepingin mind that stocks are still near record highs.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 54.80points, or 0.2%, to 27,766.29, the S&P 500 lost 4.92 points, or 0.16%, to3,103.54, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 20.52 points, or 0.24%, to 8,506.21.
While the number of Americans seekingunemployment benefits was unexpectedly unchanged at a five-month high lastweek, suggesting some labor market softening, U.S. home sales increased morethan expected in October and house prices rose at the fastest pace in more thantwo years amid lower mortgage rates and a supply shortage.
Three of the S&P 500's 11 major industrysectors rose, with energy showing the biggest gain at 1.6% as oil prices gainedon hopes that OPEC and its allies were likely to extend output cuts untilmid-2020..
Real estate showed the biggest decline at 1.4%,while technology was the biggest drag on the benchmark index with a 0.5% drop.
Shares in TD Ameritrade Holding Corp surged16.9% after CNBC reported bigger rival Charles Schwab Corp was in talks to buythe discount brokerage. Schwab's shares gained 7.3%. Rival E*Trade Financiallost 9.3%.
Tiffany & Co gained about 2.6% after aReuters report that LVMH persuaded the jewelry chain to allow it to access itsbooks following a raised bid.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones onthe NYSE by a 1.55-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.37-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 11 new 52-week highs and4 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 52 new highs and 88 new lows.
On U.S. exchanges, 6.83 billion shares changedhands, compared with the 7.05 billion average for the last 20 sessions.