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Stocks finish mixed ahead of U.S.-China trade talks

Stocks finish mixed ahead of U.S.-China trade talks
President Trump meets with China's President Xi Jinping, left, during their bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last year. Chinese and U.S. trade negotiators are in contact ahead of an expected meeting at the G-20 summit. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP)

The U.S. stock market capped a day of listless trading with modest losses Monday as investors focused on upcoming trade talks between the U.S. and China.

The major stock indexes drifted between small gains and losses for much of the day, though smaller company stocks had their worst day since May. The losses erased some of the market's solid gains from last week, when the benchmark S&P 500 index closed at an all-time high.

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The muted trading came as investors looked ahead to a highly anticipated meeting between the leadership of the U.S. and China later this week. The world's two largest economies have been embroiled in a trade war that has taken the market on a volatile roller-coaster ride this year and Wall Street is hoping for a deal.

The S&P 500 index slipped 5.11 points, or 0.2%, to 2,945.35. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 8.41 points, or less than 0.1%, to 26,727.54. The Nasdaq composite dropped 26.01 points, or 0.3%, to 8,005.70.

The market notched its third straight weekly gain last week and is on track for a strong monthly rebound from a steep sell-off in May. The major U.S. stock indexes are up more than 7% so far this month and are holding on to gains of more than 14% for the year.

Health care stocks accounted for a big share of the selling Monday, led by a slide in shares of pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb. The stock fell after the company said it would divest its blockbuster psoriasis treatment Otezla as part of a push to win regulatory approval for its $74 billion buyout of Celgene. Shares in Bristol-Myers were the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, losing 7.4%. Celgene dropped 5.4%.

Consumer discretionary stocks and banks also helped pull the market lower. Ulta Beauty dropped 2.6% and Capital One Financial dropped 3.1%.

Technology companies, consumer goods makers and materials stocks were among the gainers. Western Digital rose 2.5%, Tyson Foods added 1.9% and Newmont Goldcorp gained 2.5%.

Traders welcomed news that Eldorado Resorts has agreed to buy casino operator Caesars Entertainment in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $17.3 billion. The deal creates a casino giant with about 60 casinos and resorts in 16 states under a single name. Caesars has been struggling since emerging from bankruptcy in 2017. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn took an enormous stake in the company and pushed for big changes. Caesars surged 14.5% and Eldorado fell 10.6%.

Bond prices rose, sending yields lower, as investors continued to shift money into U.S. bonds as a hedge against a possible downturn in the economy or further escalation in trade tensions. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.02% from 2.06% late Friday.

Energy futures finished mixed. Benchmark crude oil rose 47 cents to settle at $57.90 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, fell 34 cents to close at $64.86 a barrel.

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Gold rose $18.20 to $1,414.30 per ounce, and silver rose 10 cents to $15.37 per ounce.

The dollar fell to 107.32 Japanese yen from 107.41 yen on Friday. The euro strengthened to $1.1401 from $1.369.

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