May 23, 2018 / 4:51 PM / 7 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St remains lower on fresh concerns over U.S.-China trade talks

* 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 0.63 pct, S&P 0.43 pct, Nasdaq 0.17 pct (Updates to early afternoon)

By Medha Singh

May 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday as 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 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),” said 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, while expressing hope the summit will take place next month.

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 12:33 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 157.63 points, or 0.63 percent, at 24,676.78, the S&P 500 was down 11.64 points, or 0.43 percent, at 2,712.80 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 12.57 points, or 0.17 percent, at 7,365.89.

Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were in the red, with financial sector leading the declines, down 1.3 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 following the 2007-2009 global financial crisis.

Industrials, which as a group are the most sensitive to trade issues, fell 0.9 percent.

Retailers had a mixed day. Target sank 5.6 percent after the retailer’s quarterly profit rose less than expected as increasing investments dented margins. The results weighed on Walmart, which fell 0.9 percent.

Tiffany surged 19.6 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.

Ralph Lauren soared 16.2 percent after the company’s higher margins helped deliver a solid profit that beat analysts’ estimates.

Lowe’s gained 9.3 percent after the home improvement retailer maintained its annual financial targets and billionaire investor Bill Ackman was reported to have bought a $1 billion stake in company.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise slipped 10.3 percent after the company reiterated expectations of moderating growth.

Comcast dipped 1.7 percent after the U.S. cable operator said it was preparing to top Disney’s offer for certain Twenty-First Century Fox assets.

Disney fell 1.4 percent, while Fox rose 1.8 percent.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.31-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.12-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 4 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 58 new highs and 33 new lows. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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