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US stocks close marginally lower

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Apple stock climbs 1.0% to a fresh record-high

US indices closed marginally lower on Monday, 20 March 2017 for the third straight day of losses, as investors were reluctant to make big bets without major economic or corporate news. In early trade, the Nasdaq Composite set an intraday all-time high, but settled within a few points of its previous closing record set earlier this month.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 8.76 points, or less than 0.1%, lower at 20,905.86, with two-thirds of the blue-chip companies closing in positive territory. The Nasdaq Composite Index set an intraday high at 5,915.12 in early trade, but finished virtually unchanged at 5,901.53. The S&P 500 index closed off 4.8 points, or 0.2%, at 2,373.45, with seven of the 11 main sectors finishing in negative territory.

Financials were the biggest decliners, putting pressure on the main index. Meanwhile energy stocks tracked volatile oil prices, ending slightly lower as crude-oil prices recovered some of the sharp losses.

Caterpillar and Nike led the gains, closing up 2.7% and 1.5%, respectively while Home Depot and Visa were the top decliners, each losing 1.2%.

Monday's sideways trend fits nicely with the range-bound action that has ensued over the last couple of weeks in the As leaders in Washington continue to debate the details of health care reform, investors keep their fingers crossed for a quick resolution, knowing that the longer the bill takes to pass through Congress, the longer they will have to wait for tax reform.

News flow was generally light on Monday with statements from three FOMC voters acting as the top headline. In summary, Chicago Fed President Evans could not rule out four rate hikes in 2017, Philadelphia Fed President Harker believes that the Fed will mildly overshoot the 2.0% inflation target, and Minneapolis Fed President Kashkari stated that he would like to shift the focus to reducing the Fed's balance sheet.

Treasuries ticked up in the wake of the statements to finish Monday with modest gains. The benchmark 10-yr yield closed three basis points lower at 2.47%.

Among stocks under focus, Walt Disney shares gained 0.9% after Beauty and the Beast topped box-office ticket sales over the weekend. Shares of Caterpillar were up 2.7% after the industrial-equipment maker reported encouraging February retail machine-sales data. Apple also had a solid showing, climbing 1.0% to a fresh record-high.

Bullion prices ended higher at Comex on Monday, 20 March 2017. Gold futures settled on Monday at their highest level in about 2 weeks, extending their post-Federal Reserve meeting gains to a third straight session, with the U.S. dollar losing ground against the euro as the U.K. prepared to leave the European Union.

April gold rose $3.80, or 0.3%, to settle at $1,234 an ounce the highest finish since March 1. Gold gained about 2.4% last week. Silver for May delivery added 0.1% to $17.438 an ounce.

Oil prices settled at their lowest level in nearly a week on Monday, 20 March 2017, as another rise in active U.S. oil rigs renewed concerns over domestic production and some analysts worried that a change to the G-20 policy statement may impact global trade.

April West Texas Intermediate crude shed 56 cents, or 1.2%, to finish at $48.22 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, ahead of the contract's expiration at Tuesday's settlement. May Brent crude gave up 14 cents, or 0.3%, to $51.62 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Investors did not receive any economic data on Monday. Tuesday's lone economic report, fourth quarter Current Account Balance (consensus -$128.2 billion), will cross the wires at 8:30 AM.

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, March 21 2017. 11:58 IST