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US markets end marginally lower on profit booking

After gaining in last few session, the US markets ended marginally lower on Wednesday on account of profit booking.  Further, some cautiousness also prevailed in the markets after President Donald Trump's State of the Union address offered few details on his economic agenda. However, the president insisted China commit to real, structural economic reforms before a trade deal can be reached.  In his speech to the nation, Trump said he had great respect for Chinese President Xi Jinping, adding that the two leaders are working on a new trade deal, while insisting that any agreement include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit and protect American jobs. Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he and US trade representative Robert Lighthizer would travel to Beijing next week to continue negotiations over the continuing trade dispute, as the administration-imposed March 1 deadline for a deal approaches, after which the president has threatened to expand tariffs on Chinese imports.

On the economic front, a government shutdown-delayed report released by the Commerce Department showed the US trade deficit narrowed by much more than anticipated in the month of November. The Commerce Department said the trade deficit narrowed to $49.3 billion in November from a revised $55.7 billion in October. Street had expected the deficit to narrow to $54.0 billion from the $55.5 billion originally reported for the previous month. The much narrower than expected deficit largely reflected a steep drop in the value of imports, which plunged by 2.9 percent to $259.2 billion in November after rising by 0.4 percent to $266.9 billion in October. Imports of consumer goods, including cell phones and other household goods, showed a significant decrease along with imports of industrial supplies and materials. The report said the value of exports also fell by 0.6 percent to $209.9 billion in November after edging down by 0.1 percent to $211.2 billion in October. Notable decreases in exports of industrial supplies and materials, gem diamonds, and drugs were partly offset by a jump in exports of civilian aircraft.

Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 21.22 points or 0.08 percent to 25390.30, S&P 500 dropped 6.09 points or 0.22 percent to 2731.61 and Nasdaq was down by 26.80 points or 0.36 percent to 7375.28.

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