NEW YORK: US stocks ended a volatile day lower on Wednesday as investors remained cautious over the lack of progress in Washington budget talks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 61.33 points (0.40 percent) at 15,273.26. The broad-based S&P 500 dipped 4.65 points (0.27 percent) to 1,692.77, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index declined 7.16 points (0.19 percent) to 3,761.10.
Stocks veered in and out of positive territory in a narrow range throughout the day.
Investors are concerned because of an October 1 deadline for Congress to fund the US government. Failure to reach a deal could force parts of the government to shut down.
"It's very difficult for the market to go up from here with all the shenanigans in Washington," said Mace Blicksilver, director at Marblehead Asset Management.
JPMorgan Chase was by far the best-performing company in the Dow, rising 2.7 percent. amid reports that it could pay US$11 billion to settle a range of regulatory issues.
Though large, such a payout would remove some uncertainty overhanging the giant bank.
Walmart fell 1.5 percent following a Bloomberg News report that it was cutting some orders with suppliers to address rising inventories and lower sales. Walmart said the report was inaccurate.
Struggling department store chain JC Penney tumbled 15.0 percent after a Goldman Sachs report on the company's cash position raised the possibility of a bankruptcy filing in light of tough business conditions.
Stryker, a medical technology company, fell 2.9 percent after announcing a US$1.65 billion acquisition of Mako Surgical Group, which specialises in robotic-assisted surgery in orthopedics. Mako surged 82.2 percent.
Online retail giant Amazon slipped 0.5 percent after unveiling a pair of new tablet devices. The company also released a new version of its Kindle Fire for US$139, down from US$199.
Cruise ship operator Carnival Corp. fell 5.3 percent after suffering analyst downgrades following weak results on Tuesday. Morgan Stanley said it will take "at least two years" for the company's valuation to be attractive, given the weak business outlook following recent cruise mishaps. - AFP