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S&P 500, Dow flat as Cisco losses offset Walmart gains

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(Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were unchanged on Thursday, but still hovered near record levels as a dour forecast from Cisco offset gains in Walmart after its strong outlook.

Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) fell 7.6% after the network gear maker said current-quarter revenue would drop 3% to 5% amid declining global spending on its routers and switches, some of which are made in China.

However, Walmart Inc (WMT.N) jumped 1.8% as the world’s biggest retailer raised its annual earnings outlook. Its results pointed to strong domestic consumer demand, ahead of a crucial retail sales report on Friday.

Retail stocks .SPXRT rose 0.61% on Walmart’s news.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the consumer discretionary sector .SPLRCD providing the biggest boost. The tech index .SPLRCT was 0.20% lower, as Cisco shares weighed.

The stock indexes had an uneventful open as weak data from China and Germany rekindled worries of a global slowdown due to a prolonged U.S.-China trade war.

“The U.S. economy continues to do well and it does appear the slow path may be coming to an end, but you are still growing close to 2%, which is not excessively strong,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

“However, it’s better than what we are seeing in other parts of the world, like the eurozone in particular.”

Hopes of a resolution to the trade dispute as well as an upbeat corporate earnings season have spurred Wall Street to record highs this month, but U.S. President Donald Trump recently tempered expectations with the threat of more tariffs if China failed to reach a deal.

China said on Thursday the two sides were holding “in-depth” trade discussions, and cancelling tariffs was an important condition to reaching a deal.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is speaking before the House Budget Committee on Thursday. He made comments about a “sustained expansion” ahead for the U.S. economy, which supported stock markets in the previous session.

At 10:23 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 1.98 points, or 0.01%, at 27,785.57, the S&P 500 .SPX rose 2.08 points, or 0.07%, at 3,096.12 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 5.99 points, or 0.07%, at 8,476.11.

Viacom Inc (VIAB.O) gained 2.7% after the MTV-owner beat quarterly profit estimates, helped by a rise in domestic advertising revenue.

Kraft Heinz Co (KHC.O) dropped 3.3% after a report that Goldman Sachs had downgraded the food and beverage maker’s stock to “sell”.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.79-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.01-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 15 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 37 new highs and 54 new lows.

Reporting by Arjun Panchadar and Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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