NEW YORK, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks closed little changed Wednesday after toggling in and out of negative territory, as investors weighed escalating geopolitical tensions in Ukraine against smaller-than-expected U.S. trade deficit.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 13.87 points, or 0.08 percent, to 16,443.34. The S&P 500 advanced 0.03 point, or less than 0.01 percent, to 1,920.24. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 2.22 points, or 0.05 percent, to 4,355.05.
Following Tuesday's decline, the three major stock indices initially went down on reports that Russia has amassed around 20, 000 troops on the eastern border of Ukraine in the past few days, which raised speculations of an invasion to stop Ukrainian troops' recent advances against pro-independence insurgents.
Further still, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed on Wednesday a decree, banning or limiting the import of agricultural products from countries that imposed sanctions on Moscow.
However, the U.S. equity market somewhat regained steam later and closed slightly above flatline, as investors seemed reluctant to continue shorting stocks after the benchmark S&P 500 had dipped to a two-month low. The latest data showed that the world's largest economy remained on path.
The U.S. trade deficit dropped by a better-than-expected 7 percent to 41.5 billion dollars in June, the lowest level since January, said the Commerce Department on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, U.S. mortgage applications increased 1.6 percent for the week ending Aug. 1 from one week earlier as key interest rates held steady, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday.
On corporate news, U.S. wireless carrier Sprint on Tuesday reportedly dropped its bid for another wireless network operator T- Mobile US in the face of regulatory hurdles. On the same day, 21st Century Fox announced that it had withdrawn its proposal to acquire Time Warner Inc.
The CBOE Volatility Index, often referred to as Wall Street's fear gauge, fell 2.96 percent to end at 16.37 Wednesday.
In other markets, crude prices dropped Wednesday as a government report showed that crude inventories at Cushing, the delivery point for the U.S. crude contract, rose last week.
Light, sweet crude for September delivery moved down 46 cents to settle at 96.92 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for September delivery lost 2 cents to close at 104.59 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange rebounded strongly Wednesday on mounting unrest in Ukraine, with the most active gold contract for December delivery up 22.9 dollars, or 1.78 percent, to settle at 1,308.2 dollars per ounce.
The U.S. dollar slightly weakened against most major currencies Wednesday and retreated versus the Japanese yen amid escalated tensions in Ukraine.
In late New York trading, the euro rose to 1.3377 dollars from 1.3374 dollars of the previous session, and the greenback bought 102.05 Japanese yen, lower than 102.55 yen of the previous session.
Dollar falls against yen amid Ukraine tensions
NEW YORK, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. dollar slightly weakened against most major currencies Wednesday and it retreated versus the Japanese yen amid escalated Ukraine tensions.
Market demand for safe-haven assets such as the yen expanded as reports showed that Russia has amassed around 20,000 troops on the eastern border of Ukraine in the past few days, which raised speculations of an invasion to stop Ukrainian troop's recent advances against pro-independence insurgents. Full story
Gold up on geopolitical tensions in Ukraine
CHICAGO, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange rose on Wednesday as tensions mounted on borders between Russia and Ukraine, boosting demand for safe haven assets.
The most active gold contract for December delivery rose 22.9 U. S. dollars, or 1.78 percent, to settle at 1,308.2 dollars per ounce. Full story