May 23, 2018 / 3:57 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St edges lower as Trump adds to trade talks uncertainty

* Trump seeks new “structure” for U.S.-China trade deal

* Fed minutes scheduled for 2:00 p.m. ET

* Comcast drops on plan to top Disney bid for Fox assets

* Tiffany surges, Target falls after quarterly results

* Indexes down: Dow 0.40 pct, S&P 0.28 pct, Nasdaq 0.16 pct (Changes comment, adds details, updates prices)

By Medha Singh

May 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were slightly lower on Wednesday after President Donald Trump’s latest comments fueled skepticism over U.S.-China trade talks and ahead of a Federal Reserve report that could indicate the pace of future rate hikes.

Trump signaled a new direction for the trade talks, saying the current track appeared “too hard to get done”, a day after telling reporters that he was not pleased with the recent talks.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s announcement over the weekend that the two countries had put the prospect of a trade war “on hold” had raised expectations that the world’s two largest economies would be able to avert a damaging trade war.

“It’s little bit of carry through from yesterday when Trump spoke about trade and that there was going to be some issues with North Korea (summit),” Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

The United States is prepared to walk away from negotiations with North Korea if the upcoming talks on its nuclear weapons program head in the wrong direction, said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The latest uncertainty comes as investors prepare to assess the Federal Reserve’s May meeting minutes, scheduled for release at 2:00 p.m. ET, for indications on how many rate hikes are likely this year.

Policymakers are split between those who see another two rate hikes and those who expect three, in the backdrop of low unemployment, moderate growth and rising inflation.

At 11:25 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 98.77 points, or 0.40 percent, at 24,735.64, the S&P 500 was down 7.61 points, or 0.28 percent, at 2,716.83 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 12.11 points, or 0.16 percent, at 7,366.35.

U.S. 10-year Treasury yield fell to a six-day low. Of the 11 major S&P sectors, only utilities, real estate and healthcare were higher.

Leading the decliners was the financial sector, down 1.2 percent.

The big banks fell after being outmaneuvered by smaller rivals in the rewriting of the Dodd-Frank law that rolled back some of the restraints imposed after the 2007-2009 global financial crisis.

Industrials, which as a group are the most sensitive to trade issues, fell 0.4 percent.

Retailers had a mixed day.

Target sank 5.2 percent after the retailer’s quarterly profit rose less than expected as increasing investments dented margins. The results weighed on Walmart , which fell 0.5 percent.

Tiffany surged 18.5 percent after the jeweler’s quarterly results blew past estimates and the company raised its full-year profit forecast and announced a $1 billion buyback program.

Lowe’s gained 10.2 percent after the home improvement retailer maintained its annual financial targets, despite a disappointing first quarter.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise slipped 10.2 percent after the company reiterated expectations of moderating growth.

Comcast fell 1.5 percent after the U.S. cable operator said it was preparing to top Disney’s offer for certain Twenty-First Century Fox assets.

Disney dropped 1.4 percent, while Fox gained 1 percent.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.28-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.02-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 2 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 50 new highs and 31 new lows. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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