Wall Street ends near flat as Russia concerns linger
Major US stock indexes ended little changed today, as tensions in Ukraine and Russia and a failed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile offset gains in consumer staples shares.
An initial selloff took the S&P 500 to its 100-day moving average, but by the last hour of trading, the benchmark index was back near the unchanged mark. Sectors posted mixed performances, with four of the S&P's 10 industry sectors ending with gains.
The S&P 500 telecom services sector slipped 1.3 percent and was the worst-performing industry, with AT&T and Verizon down on news that Sprint, facing regulatory resistance, gave up its bid for T-Mobile.
NATO reported that Russia has around 20,000 combat-ready troops on the eastern border of Ukraine that it could use to invade. Further souring the mood, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Moscow's biggest economic response to Western sanctions so far.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 13.87 points, or 0.08 percent, to 16,443.34. The S&P 500 was up 0.03 point, or 0 percent, to 1,920.24, and the Nasdaq Composite added 2.22 points, or 0.05 percent, to 4,355.05.
About 6.4 billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms, according to BATS exchange data, compared with the five-day average of 6.8 billion.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,804 to 1,222, for a 1.48-to-1 ratio on the upside. On the Nasdaq, 1,597 issues rose and 1,056 fell for a 1.51-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
European stocks fell as concerns over a Russian troop build-up on the border with Ukraine sent nervous investors into high-rated bonds.
The S&P 500 is down more than 3 percent since its most recent record high on July 24, including a drop of nearly 1 percent on Tuesday on concerns of Russian escalation in Ukraine.
But the benchmark index was trading modestly above 1,920, a key technical support level, and also managed to bounce from its 100-day moving average, another support level.
NATO said today that Russia has amassed around 20,000 combat-ready troops on Ukraine's eastern border and could use the pretext of a humanitarian or peace-keeping mission to invade.
The euro bounced back after hitting a nine-month low of $1.331 against the dollar, but was still down 0.1 percent at $1.3367 amid threats of retaliatory Russian sanctions against the European Union and signs the crisis in Ukraine was affecting Germany, Europe's biggest economy.
German industrial orders slid in June at the steepest rate since September 2011, and the economy ministry said political tensions had probably led to more consumer caution.
The FTSEurofirst 300 closed down 0.8 percent while MSCI's world equity index shed 0.2 percent. Dollar-traded Russian stocks stumbled 2.6 percent to touch their lowest level since May 6.
German 10-year bond yields fell 8 basis points to a record low of 1.092 percent, their biggest daily drop since September 2013.
Meanwhile, Japanese shares dropped to a six-week closing low as tensions over Ukraine hit global equities, and SoftBank Corp tumbled after its US subsidiary Sprint Corp abandoned its bid to acquire T-Mobile U.S. Inc.
The Nikkei average fell 1.1 percent to 15,159.79, its lowest close since June 27, logging its fifth consecutive day of losses.
The broader Topix fell 1.0 percent to 1,251.29, a seven-week closing low while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 dropped 0.9 percent to 11,395.80.