August 7, 2014 / 6:45 PM / 3 years ago

REFILE-US STOCKS-Wall Street dips as investors eye Russia tensions

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* Aetna, other health insurers fall after Goldman note

* Jobless claims fall unexpectedly in latest week

* Dow down 0.3 pct, S&P down 0.3 pct, Nasdaq down 0.1 pct

By Akane Otani

NEW YORK, Aug 7 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks dipped in choppy trading Thursday, with all three indexes erasing morning gains spurred by upbeat labor data, amid uncertainty following Russia’s retaliatory measures over Western sanctions.

Investors were wary over any possible impact from Moscow’s ban on imports of many Western foods Thursday, which followed Western sanctions for Russia’s support of rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The equity market has fluctuated for much of the past two weeks, and investors see few reasons to commit more capital, analysts said.

“We’ve been all over the place,” said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

“There’s just not enough market participants to absorb either the demand for stocks when people are buying or demand for buyers when they’re selling.”

Consumer staples shares, the bright spot of trading on Wednesday, slipped 0.6 percent on Thursday. All but one of the benchmark index’s 10 sectors were lower, backtracking from brief gains in the morning that were fueled by earnings reports and employment data.

Still, while sanctions could hurt European economies which have closer trading ties to Russia, some analysts believed the measures were unlikely to make a significant dent on U.S. equities.

“Russia isn’t that large a trading partner for the U.S., except for things like poultry, so I think specific stocks could get hit by the overall market, probably not,” Forrest said.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 51.98 points, or 0.32 percent, to 16,391.36, the S&P 500 was down 6.41 points, or 0.33 percent, to 1,913.83 and the Nasdaq Composite fell 6.05 points, or 0.14 percent, to 4,349.00.

iDreamSky Technology shares jumped as high as 27 percent to $19.05 in the mobile game company’s trading debut, blowing past its IPO price of $15 per share. The company’s value hit $811.3 million at its peak.

Health insurer stocks took a hit after Goldman Sachs downgraded Aetna to neutral and cut earnings estimates on a number of its peers. Aetna shares slid 3.2 percent to $75.85, UnitedHealth Group shares lost 2.2 percent to $79.69 and Cigna shares fell 2.3 percent to $89.37.

Twenty-First Century Fox posted the biggest gains in the S&P 500. Shares surged 5.1 percent to $33.96 after the company’s quarterly profit beat Wall Street’s expectations.

Jobless claims reports lent optimism to the market in the morning as the four-week claims average fell to its lowest level since February 2006, suggesting labor market conditions are continuing to improve. (Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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