Equities oscillated between positive and negative territory as they struggled to sustain an opening rally spurred by hopes for progress in US-China trade negotiations. A Chinese commerce ministry spokesman had said Washington and Beijing were in close contact over trade.
Investors also factored in news updates on issues ranging from a potential US government shutdown and interest rates to uncertainty around Brexit and concerns over slowing global growth.
Defensive sectors gained while financials and consumer discretionary stocks were the biggest drag.
Retail stocks dropped, with Under Armour sliding 4.8% after the sportswear maker forecast 2019 revenue growth and profit below Wall Street estimates.
Procter & Gamble Co rose 2.5% after Bank of America Merrill Lynch upgraded the consumer goods maker’s stock to “buy” from “neutral.”
General Electric Co was up 7% after JP Morgan upgraded the industrial conglomerate’s shares to “neutral.”
Apple Inc. said it would invest $1 billion to build a new campus in Austin, Texas. The stock rose 1%.
Tailored Brands Inc. tumbled 29.59% after the parent company of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. reported third-quarter sales that missed expectations and it reduced its earnings guidance for the year.
Aflac Inc. stock gained 6.6% after the insurer confirmed it is in talks with Japan Post Holdings Co. Ltd. to take a minority stake.
Shares of Delta Air Lines Inc. fell 4.8% after the airline announced 2019 earnings guidance of between $6 and $7 a share.
In Asia, Greater China markets traded lower after the world’s second largest economy reported economic data that missed expectations.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index declined 1.55% after China reported that industrial production in November grew 5.4% year-on-year, lower than the 5.9% that Reuters projected. In mainland markets, the Shanghai composite was 0.54% weaker.
Elsewhere, Australia’s ASX 200 declined 1.08%, South Korea’s Kospi slipped 1.40% and the Nikkei 225 in Japan dipped 1.99%.