March 28, 2019 / 4:03 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St muted as growth worries weigh; trade talks in focus

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* U.S., China make progress on trade deal

* PVH Corp gains on strong FY forecast

* U.S. Q4 growth cut; corporate profits fall

* Nielsen falls on report of doubt about auction

* Indexes off: Dow 0.09 pct, S&P 0.13 pct, Nasdaq 0.19 pct (Changes comment, updates prices)

By Shreyashi Sanyal and Amy Caren Daniel

March 28 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks swung between gains and losses on Thursday, as optimism fueled by progress in U.S.-China trade talks was overshadowed by fears of an economic slowdown after a cut in fourth-quarter GDP growth.

Data on Thursday showed domestic economy slowed more than initially thought in the fourth quarter, keeping growth in 2018 below the 3 percent annual target, and corporate profits failed to rise for the first time in more than two years.

Growth worries hit markets last week when the Federal Reserve abandoned projections for any interest rate hikes this year and the U.S. Treasury yield curve inverted for the first time since 2007.

“As more and more investors look at the data, it does point to slower growth,” said Chad Oviatt, director of investment management for Huntington Private Bank in Columbus, Ohio.

On trade front, U.S. officials told Reuters on Wednesday that China had made proposals in talks with the United States on a range of issues that go further than it has before, including on forced technology transfer.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Washington could lift some tariffs on Beijing, while leaving others in place as part of an enforcement mechanism on the deal.

Senior U.S. officials arrived in Beijing on Thursday for a fresh round of trade talks with Chinese officials, which will be followed by a round held in Washington next week.

Trade sensitive industrial stocks rose 0.2 percent, with Caterpillar Inc and 3M Co gaining 0.2 percent each.

“The markets had priced in a trade deal by the month of April but we see that pushed into the month of may or June, so that is a pretty fluid situation,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

With investors beginning to adjust to a dovish pivot from global central banks, the benchmark 10-year yields rose off their 15-month lows on Thursday.

At 11:42 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 22.92 points, or 0.09 percent, at 25,602.67, the S&P 500 was down 3.65 points, or 0.13 percent, at 2,801.72 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 14.60 points, or 0.19 percent, at 7,628.78.

Consumer discretionary stocks rose 0.66 percent, and provided the biggest boost to markets.

PVH Corp gained 16 percent, the most among S&P 500 companies, after the apparel maker forecast full-year adjusted profit and sales above Wall Street expectations.

Nielsen Holdings Plc fell 9.8 percent, the most among S&P 500 companies, after a report that private equity firm Blackstone Group backed out of an auction to buy the ratings company.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.05-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.84-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 21 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 32 new highs and 24 new lows. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Anil D’Silva)

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