U.S. stocks pressured as investors parse trade news, weak Chinese data

U.S. stocks closed mostly lower Thursday as investors digested headlines suggesting progress toward a U.S.-China trade deal has stalled against the backdrop of weaker-than-expected Chinese economic data.

How did major indexes fare?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.03%  bucked the broader market’s decline to rise 7.05 points to 25,709.94. The S&P 500 index SPX, -0.09% slipped 2.44 points to 2,808.48, and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.16% shed 12.50 points, or 0.2%, to 7,630.91.

What drove the markets?

A meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will be delayed until at least April, Bloomberg News reported, indicating that a bilateral trade deal will not be finalized this month.

The news comes after Trump told reporters in the White House on Wednesday that he was in no rush to strike a trade agreement, and said there remained the possibility that he could walk away, even as he expressed optimism about progress in talks.

Disappointing industrial output from China also provided more signs that the world’s second-largest economy has continued to decelerate, heightening anxieties about sluggish global growth.

Meanwhile, the U.K. Parliament voted to request an extension of the March 29 Brexit deadline to June 30 if lawmakers can agree to a withdrawal deal by March 20. Thursday’s vote comes after Prime Minister Theresa May failed to secure support for her revised Brexit plan and lawmakers on Wednesday ruled out a no-deal exit.

Market participants have closely watched Brexit negotiations because the threat of a disorderly exit from the EU by Britain could roil global markets.

What data were in focus?

The number of Americans applying for first-time unemployment benefits rose by 6,000 to 229,000 during the week ended March 9, above the 225,000 reading expected by economists polled by MarketWatch.

The price of imported goods rose by

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