S&P 500 eases amid US-China trade uncertainty

US stocks close higher; Boeing shares turn volatile

President Donald Trump on yesterday [local time] dangled the prospect of walking away from a new trade deal with China if it's not to his liking, just as he cut short his summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un when the two sides failed to reach an agreement.

Bloomberg reported on Thursday that a meeting between the two was more likely to take place in April at the earliest.

A discussion was held between China's vice premier Liu He and USA trade representative Robert Lighthizer and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin by phone on Thursday, and that "further material progress" has been made over the wording of the agreement document, Xinhua news reported. He spoke optimistically of the US and China being able to reach an agreement, declaring that "China has not been doing well".

"But breaking out of the next level of resistance has been a wall to get through". We could have the deal completed and come and sign, or we could get the deal nearly completed and negotiate some of the final points.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 148.23 points, or 0.58 percent, to 25,702.89 on Wednesday.

There is now no plan for the USA to send another lower-level delegation to Beijing to iron out the details but it's possible Lighthizer would have to make the trip again to finalize some of the outstanding points in person.

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A slow down on its main core apps; WhatsApp and Instagram, caused Facebook to slide 1.9 percent.

Meanwhile, a Commerce Department report showed sales of new USA single-family homes fell more than expected in January, suggesting the housing market weakness persisted early in the first quarter.

Apple Inc rose 1 percent, extending a four-day winning streak, after brokerage Cowen and Co started coverage with an "outperform" rating. An Apple-led technology rally has propped up markets recently.

The PHLX housing index dipped 0.5 per cent on the news.

Downbeat housing data follows tame inflation reports this week which underscored the Federal Reserve's patient stance on future interest rate hikes and helped the S&P and Nasdaq post three consecutive session of gains. The S&P 500 increased 19.40 points, or 0.69 percent, to 2,810.92.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.69 billion shares, compared to the 7.37 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

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