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US markets end mostly lower on Wednesday

The US markets bounced off intraday lows but still ended mostly lower on Wednesday as comments from US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer partly offset recent optimism about the US-China trade talks. Lighthizer, who is described as hawkish on trade, told members of the House Ways and Means Committee that China needs to go beyond pledging to buy more US goods to reach to a long-term trade agreement. Lighthizer said 'We can compete with anyone in the world, but we must have rule, enforced rules, that make sure market outcomes and not state capitalism and technology theft determine winners'. The reaction to Lighthizer's remarks reflected the lingering uncertainty about a potential US-China trade deal even after President Donald Trump decided to postpone an increase in tariffs on Chinese imports.

On the economic front, a government shutdown-delayed report released by the Commerce Department showed new orders for US manufactured goods rose by much less than anticipated in the month of December. The Commerce Department said factory orders inched up by 0.1% in December after falling by a revised 0.5% in November. Street had expected orders to climb by 0.5% compared to the 0.6% decrease originally reported for the previous month. The uptick in factory orders came as a jump in orders for durable goods was largely offset by a steep drop in orders for non-durable goods. The report said durable goods orders surged up by 1.2% in December, largely reflecting a 3.2% spike in orders for transportation equipment.

Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 72.82 points or 0.28 percent to 25985.16 and S&P 500 was down by 1.52 points or 0.05 percent to 2792.38, while Nasdaq gained 5.21 points or 0.07 percent to 7554.51. 

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