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Major indexes edge lower amid trade talk concerns

NEW YORK (AP) — Major stock indexes edged lower in afternoon trading after investors turned more cautious as talks between the U.S. and China on a trade deal appear to hit some snags.

Stocks were evenly split between gainers and losers on the S&P 500 index, but a big drop from internet gear maker Cisco was a drag on the broader market. Walmart, which had been solidly higher earlier, turned slightly lower.

China is pressing Washington to roll back tariffs as part of potential deal that the nations are currently negotiating. U.S. President Donald Trump has so far been dismissive about any change on tariffs while negotiations continue. The latest potential hurdle comes a day after reports said that China is being reluctant to commit to a specific amount of U.S. farm good purchases.

Investors hope that both nations can come to some sort of an agreement to avert new and potentially more damaging tariffs that are scheduled to take effect next month. Those new tariffs would hit some popular consumer products, such as electronic devices, as well as everyday goods.

Technology stocks were the biggest losers. Cisco fell 7% after giving investors a surprisingly weak revenue forecast.

Banks also moved broadly lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.81% from 1.87% late Wednesday. Lower bond yields hurt banks’ ability to charge more lucrative interest rates on mortgages and other loans.

Real estate companies and utilities held up better than the rest of the market in another sign that investors were shifting money into more defensive holdings.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 fell 0.3% as of 12:05 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 69 points, or 0.3% to 27,709. The Nasdaq fell 0.5%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks fell 0.6%.

MARKET OVERVIEW: Stocks are still trading near records. Both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average reached new highs on Wednesday.

The broader market has been gaining ground for weeks on hopes that the U.S. and China can make progress in their latest push for a deal. Investors have also been encouraged by surprisingly good corporate earnings and data showing the economy is still growing solidly.

OVERSEAS: European markets moved lower. Asian markets were mixed. China’s government reported Thursday that factory activity and spending weakened more than expected in October. Japanese data showed economic growth also slowed.

CHINA’S CHICKEN ORDER: Processed food companies, including Tyson Foods, moved higher after China decided to lift its four-year ban on U.S. poultry imports.

Tyson rose 2.8%, Sanderson Farms gained 4.1% and Pilgrim’s Pride edged up 1.6%.

The U.S. is the world’s second largest poultry exporter, with global exports of poultry meat and products of $4.3 billion last year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that more than $1 billion in poultry could be exported to China annually.

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