By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were near flat on Wednesday as a report that the U.S.-China deal could be delayed until December increased worries about how long the trade war will go on, while healthcare shares supported the market.
A senior official of the Trump administration told Reuters a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign a long-awaited interim trade deal could be delayed until December, as discussions continue over terms and a venue.
Stocks were also on pause after their recent run to record highs.
The year end is typically a bullish time for stocks, but the trade war is still a risk, said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial (NYSE:) in Newark, New Jersey.
Also, “there’s been concern the market was moving toward overbought conditions,” she said.
Humana Inc (N:) rose 3.9% as the health insurer reported quarterly profit that beat estimates on higher sales of its government-backed Medicare Advantage health plans.
CVS Health Corp (N:) gained 4.9% after the pharmacy chain posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit, boosted by its Aetna (NYSE:) health insurance business and pharmacy benefit management unit.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average () fell 2.91 points, or 0.01%, to 27,489.72, the S&P 500 () lost 0.21 points, or 0.01%, to 3,074.41 and the Nasdaq Composite () dropped 28.29 points, or 0.34%, to 8,406.39.
The recent rally had been fueled by signs of progress in the U.S.-China trade talks and a mostly upbeat earnings season.
The S&P 500 energy index () fell 2.3% following declines in oil prices, while the S&P health care () was up 0.6%.
Match Group Inc (O:) slumped 4.9% as the Tinder owner forecast fourth-quarter revenue below estimates in the face of stiff competition from rival online dating services. Its parent firm, IAC/InterActiveCorp (O:), dropped 4.7%.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.16-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.65-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 11 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 62 new highs and 53 new lows.
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