US equities fluctuated, while Treasuries fell, as investors awaited the latest jobs data and President Donald Trump's meeting with with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

In 2.02pm trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.1 per cent. The Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.1 per cent. In 1.47pm trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index edged 0.1 per cent lower.

The Dow moved higher as gains in shares of Caterpillar and those of United Technologies, up 2.1 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively, outweighed slides in shares of Nike and those of Visa, down 1.1 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively.

Thursday marks the first day of he two-day meeting between Trump and Xi, leaders of the world's biggest economies, and will be closely watched by investors.


"The US has its work cut out for it if it is going to try to alter the pattern of trade that has developed between China and US companies over the last 10 to 20 years," Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York, told Reuters.

A Commerce Department report showed the US trade deficit dropped 9.6 per cent to US$43.6 billion last month, as imports fell and exports rose.

"The continued rise in exports offers a somewhat encouraging picture of global economic activity. Viewed in isolation, the decline in imports could be troubling, but is tempered by the fact that it follows four months of rising imports," Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jefferies in New York, said in a note to clients, Bloomberg reported.

"The narrower deficit also provides less of a drag on measured GDP growth in the US."

Investors also await US jobs data, with the ADP employment report released on Wednesday, followed by weekly jobless claims on Thursday, and nonfarm payrolls on Friday.

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Jeffrey Lacker said he is resigning immediately, instead of a previously announced plan to retire from the position in October, because of a 2012 conversation with an analyst from Medley Global Advisers.

24 Mar, 2017 1:00pm
2 minutes to read
The US has its work cut out for it if it is going to try to alter the pattern of trade that has developed between China and US companies over the last 10 to 20 years.


"I regret that in this instance I crossed the line to confirming information that should have remained confidential," Lacker said in a statement. "In this episode, as in all of my communications with analysts, journalists and the public, it was never my intention to reveal confidential information. "

Exxon Mobil shares rose after the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter, that the only big oil company without a major foothold in Brazil is in talks to gain access to the country's prized deep-water resources.

Shares of Exxon Mobil traded 0.1 per cent higher as of 2pm in New York.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index finished the session with a 0.2 per cent advance from the previous close. Germany's DAX Index rose 0.2 per cent, France's CAC40 Index added 0.3 per cent, while the UK's FTSE 100 Index gained 0.5 per cent.