NEW YORK - World stock markets were mixed on Wednesday as traders took profits following recent gains that have sent indices to record or multi-year highs.
Wall Street inched to another trifecta of record closes, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average finishing at its fifth straight all-time high. But Wednesday's tepid gains in New York capped a day of uncertain movement, where stocks opened lower but the haltingly edged higher.
The Dow was essentially flat, reaching into positive territory by a nose, while the broader S&P 500 rose less than a tenth of a percent.
Analyst Hugh Johnson told AFP fears about the fate of corporate tax cuts -- a key plank of the Trump and Republican agendas -- blunted investor appetite.
The rally is "stalling out because there is still concerns of whether we will get cuts on corporate taxes," he said, so "The market becomes pretty trendless."
The Washington Post reported that Senate Republicans were considering putting off the cuts by a year to ease their cost and impact.
"Traders will be watching closely as the horse-trading continues in the week and weeks ahead," said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader.
Meanwhile, sources confirmed to AFP that the US Justice Department told Time Warner to sell Turner Broadcasting, which includes CNN, as a condition of its proposed merger with the telecom giant AT&T.
The conditions on the deal are seen by many as possible political retaliation given President Donald Trump's constant criticism of CNN for its coverage of his administration.
AT&T finished up 1.2 percent while Time Warner plunged 6.5 percent on the news.
OIL PRICES COOL
Europe's main markets were split, with Frankfurt's DAX 30 posting a small gain and the Paris CAC 40 dipping. In London the FTSE 100 eked out a small gain thanks to a weaker pound.
Focus in Asia remained on Trump's tour of the region, now in Beijing where he will meet Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. Trade, a thorny issue between the two since Trump's election a year ago, likely will top the agenda along with the North Korea crisis.
Easing concerns about North Korea were offset by worries about the Middle East after Saudi Arabia accused Iran of "direct military aggression" over a Yemeni rebel missile attack near Riyadh.
While the tensions led to spike in oil prices on Monday, a surprise rise in US crude oil inventories in the weekly Energy Information Administration (EIA) report sent prices lower.
"A rise in US crude stockpiles provided the excuse oil longs needed to unload some of their profits, as the EIA data pointed to the first rise in two weeks," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at trading firm IG.
Benchmark oil prices fell sharply in London and New York and oil stocks dipped, with Chevron down 0.5 percent, Royal Dutch Shell falling 0.3 percent and Exxon Mobil losing 0.1 percent.
KEY FIGURES AROUND 2200 GMT (6 a.m. Thursday in Manila)
New York - DOW: FLAT at 23,563.36 (close)
New York - S&P 500: UP 0.1 percent at 2,594.38 (close)
New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.3 percent at 6,789.12 (close)
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7,529.72 points (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.2 percent at 13,382.42 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.2 percent at 5,471.43 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,655.04 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.1 percent at 22,913.82 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.3 percent at 28,907.60 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 3,415.46 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1594 from $1.1588 at 2200 GMT
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3115 from $1.3164
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 113.87 from 114.00 yen
Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 20 cents at $63.49 per barrel
Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 39 cents at $56.81
© Agence France-Presse