US STOCKS-Wall St wavers as investors eye trade talks, growth fears


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* Beijing, Washington express trade talks optimism

* Trade-sensitive industrials buoy S&P

* U.S. lawmakers in talks to avoid another shutdown

* Healthcare stocks weigh on Dow

* Dow off 0.21 pct, S&P 500 up 0.07 pct, Nasdaq up 0.13 pct (Updates to market close)

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Wall Street see-sawed onMonday, rarely straying far from opening levels as investorseyed ongoing U.S.-China trade talks, potential congressionalgridlock and a diminished 2019 earnings outlook.

The S&P 500 .SPX and the Nasdaq .IXIC.O eked out nominalgains while the blue chip Dow .DJI edged lower.

Both Beijing and Washington expressed optimism about tradenegotiations between the world's two largest economies, even asa U.S. Navy mission in the disputed South China Sea provokedChina's anger. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N20614C

In Washington, congressional leaders attempted to reach anagreement on border security funding in a bid to avert anothergovernment shutdown. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2060IA

With two-thirds of S&P 500 companies having reported, thefourth-quarter earnings season approached the home stretch. Sofar, 71.2 percent have posted better-than-expected profits.

Fourth-quarter earnings growth is now estimated at 16.5percent, up from 15.8 percent at the beginning of the year.

But first-quarter 2019 profit growth expectations havediminished. Analysts now see the year starting with quarterlyearnings dropping 0.2 percent from last year, which would markthe first contraction since the second quarter of 2016. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2060OM

"It speaks to concerns about the global slowdown that peopleare growing more aware of," said Robert Pavlik, chief investmentstrategist and senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLCin New York. "It's the effects of tariffs and a somewhat tightermonetary policy.

"Guidance has been a mixed bag and trade uncertainty is themajor connecting issue," Pavlik added.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 53.22 points,or 0.21 percent, to 25,053.11, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 1.92points, or 0.07 percent, to 2,709.8 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 9.71 points, or 0.13 percent, to 7,307.91.

Losses on Monday were concentrated. Of the 11 major S&Psectors, only communications services .SPLRCL , utilities .SPLRCU and healthcare .SPXHC closed in the red.

Tariff-sensitive industrial stocks provided the biggest liftto the S&P 500, led by Union Pacific CorpUNP.N , GeneralElectric Co GE.N and FedEx CorpFDX.N , among others.

Healthcare stocks were the biggest drag on the Dow, pulleddown by UnitedHealth Group IncUNH.N and Pfizer IncPFE.N and Merck & CoMRK.N , each down more than 1 percent.

Shares of Tesla IncTSLA.O rose 2.3 percent afterCannacord Genuity upgraded the stock to "buy" from "hold." Itsaid the electric automaker's recent price cuts are helpingachieve its goal of an affordable Model 3. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N2061SH

Apple IncAAPL.O edged 0.6 percent lower after industryresearch firm IDC said in a report that iPhone sales in Chinafell by 20 percent in the fourth quarter. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL5N2064W2

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a1.86-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.52-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 32 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; theNasdaq Composite recorded 62 new highs and 23 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.23 billion shares, comparedwith the 7.43 billion average over the last 20 trading days. (Reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by Dan Grebler) ((stephen.culp@thomsonreuters.com; +1-646-223-6076))




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