Stock indexes edge mostly higher in early morning trading

U.S. stock indexes veered slightly lower in late-afternoon trading Thursday ahead of a new round of trade talks between the U.S. and China. Losses in technology stocks, utilities and other sectors outweighed gains in energy and industrial companies. Small-company stocks were faring better than the rest of the market.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index slipped 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,720 as of 3:22 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 61 points, or 0.3 percent, to 24,707. The Nasdaq composite fell 11 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,387. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 10 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,626, a day after it closed at an all-time high.

TRADE JITTERS: The Trump administration was scheduled to resume talks in Washington with senior Chinese officials seeking to ward off a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. But while fielding questions from reporters Thursday afternoon, Trump suggested the talks may not end up averting a trade war with China: “Will that be successful? I tend to doubt it,” Trump said.

The Trump administration has proposed tariffs on up to $150 billion in Chinese products to punish Beijing for forcing American companies to turn over technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market. China has countered by targeting $50 billion in U.S. products.

Neither country has imposed the tariffs.

THE QUOTE: “Now that we’re making it out of earnings season, geopolitical is going to come back into the forefront of what the market’s concerns are,” said Shawn Cruz, manager of trader strategy at TD Ameritrade. “And that may continue to drive intraday volatility until we get more certainty as far as what is actually going to come out of these trade talks.”

SWITCH OFF: Cisco slid 3.6 percent to $43.55

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