January 24, 2018 / 5:13 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Wall St mood cools after Wilbur Ross comments on China

* Indexes up: Dow 0.25 pct, S&P flat, Nasdaq off 0.46 pct (Updates to early afternoon)

By Sruthi Shankar

Jan 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks pared gains on Wednesday after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross called China’s 2025 technology strategy a “direct threat” and hinted at action against Beijing, stirring fears of a tit-for-tat trade war.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Ross said U.S. trade authorities were investigating whether there is a case for taking action over China’s infringements of intellectual property.

That was enough to turn back a relatively upbeat morning on New York markets, which had been buoyed by the prospect of a weaker dollar boosting the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers.

“There is commentary coming from Davos ... about China,” Michael Antonelli, managing director, institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

“But I would lean towards the fact that the market has come so far so fast. If we continue to hit lower today, I think then we have come to a buying exhaustion point.”

By 11:56 a.m. ET (1656 GMt), the Dow Jones industrial average was up just 65 points, or 0.25 percent, at 26,275.91, having earlier risen around 0.7 percent on the day.

The S&P 500 was down 0.27 points, or 0.00951 percent, at 2,838.86 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 34.16 points, or 0.46 percent, at 7,426.13. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Herb Lash in New York.; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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