US stocks edge down

New York, Nov 20 (IANS) The US stocks ended slightly lower after wavering between small gains and losses on Thursday, as Wall Street digested economic data amid expectations of a December rate hike.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4.41 points (0.02 percent) to 17,732.75, Xinhua reported.

The S&P 500 dipped 2.34 points (0.11 percent) to 2,081.24. The Nasdaq Composite Index decreased 1.56 points (0.03 percent) to 5,073.64.

In the week ending November 14, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims decreased 5,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level to 271,000, roughly in line with market consensus, the US Labour Department said on Thursday.

Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing survey’s diffusion index for current activity came out at 1.9 for November, its first positive reading in three months, and also beating market estimates.

Meanwhile, investors were still sifting through the Federal Reserve’s October meeting minutes released Wednesday afternoon.

According to the minutes, most participants anticipated that it would be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate at its next meeting, given the improving economic conditions.

“Rates are going to rise on December 16 unless clear evidence the economy has broken emerges in the next few weeks,” said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, in a note on Thursday.

In corporate news, shares of Best Buy fell 2.11 percent to $30.67 apiece, even after the largest US consumer electronics chain announced better-than-expected quarterly profit.

The CBOE Volatility Index, often referred to as Wall Street’s fear gauge, slightly rose 0.83 percent to end at 16.99 on Thursday.

In other markets, US oil price retreated as US stockpiles added last week.

The US dollar decreased against other major currencies after hitting a seven-month high in the previous two sessions.

In late New York trading, the euro rose to $1.0733 from $1.0647 in the previous session, while the dollar bought 122.83 Japanese yen, lower than 123.55 yen of the previous session.

Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange rose as the US dollar weakened.

The most active gold contract for December delivery rose $9.2 (0.86 percent) to settle at $1,077.90 per ounce.

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