Wall Street drops after China cancels visit to Montana farmland

(Reuters) - Wall Street dropped on Friday after a Chinese agriculture delegation canceled a planned visit to Montana next week, dampening optimism about U.S.-China trade talks.

The delegates, who had been set to visit U.S. farm states, will return to China sooner than originally scheduled, the Montana Farm Bureau said, pushing the major indexes into negative territory.

The cancellation came as trade talks were held in Washington and U.S. President Donald Trump said he wanted a complete trade deal with the Asian nation, not just an agreement for China to buy more U.S. agricultural goods.

For months, Wall Street has bounced up and down in reaction to often conflicting signs of improvement and deterioration in U.S.-China trade talks, often based on comments or tweets from Trump, a cycle that many investors are becoming accustomed to.

"In this case, it's a bit more concerning because its China making the decision, rather than Trump," said Willie Delwiche, markets strategist at Baird, in Milwaukee.

The most recent bout of trade optimism in recent weeks helped elevate the S&P 500 <.SPX> to just shy of its all-time high hit in July.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower with the tariff-sensitive S&P 500 information technology index <.SPLRCT> declining the most, down 0.7%. The Philadelphia chip index <.SOX> fell 1.2%.

At 2:45 pm ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> was down 0.22% at 27,034.27 points, while the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 0.20% to 3,000.78.

The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 0.57% to 8,136.16.

Before news of the farm visit cancellation broke, the S&P 500 and Dow Industrials were in positive territory, supported by gains in healthcare stocks <.SPXHC>.

Netflix tumbled 6.2% after CEO Reed Hastings made comments underscoring growing costs and rising competition from Walt Disney Co <DIS.N>, Apple Inc <AAPL.O> and other video streaming services.

Adding to Netflix's woes, Evercore ISI said recent data painted an uncertain picture of the company's international subscriber growth.

The S&P 500 healthcare index <.SPXHC>, which has been the worst performing S&P sector this year, clocked the biggest gain among the 11 major sectors, up 0.7%

Merck & Co <MRK.N> gained 1.8% after the company's drugs Pifeltro and Delstrigo received FDA approval for use in certain adult patients with HIV-1 who are "virally suppressed."

Roku Inc <ROKU.O> slumped 18.7% after Pivotal Research started coverage of its shares with a "sell" rating.

Xilinx Inc <XLNX.O> dropped 6.9% after Chief Financial Officer Lorenzo Flores said he would step down, prompting Bank of America Merrill to downgrade the chipmaker to "neutral."

Markets may be volatile toward the end of the session due to "quadruple witching," where investors unwind positions in futures and options contracts before they expire.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.14-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.16-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 21 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 30 new highs and 38 new lows.

(Additional reporting by Ambar Warrick and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

09/20/2019 19:03

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