Wall Street's main indexes gave up opening gains on Wednesday as industrial companies continued to suffer from concerns over the impact of new tariffs on trade.
Boeing fell nearly 2 percent, turning the Dow Jones Industrial Average negative, with traders citing continuing fallout from reports on Tuesday that U.S. President Donald Trump is seeking to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese imports.
"The market is still trying to weigh concerns about tariffs on one hand and understanding how the President acts and how he speaks openly and comes up with a different policy in the end," said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth.
Major U.S. manufacturers have been the heaviest hit since Trump trailered and then announced tariffs on steel and aluminium imports earlier this month.
The issue overshadowed China's report that its factory output grew much faster than expected at the start of the year, suggesting the world's second largest economy may be picking up speed.
The third straight monthly fall in retail sales did not speak well of U.S. growth but it cooled any nerves that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates more than the three times in 2018.
At 9:59 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.08 percent at 25,027.92. The S&P 500 gained 0.1 percent to 2,768.29 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.02 percent to 7,512.85. Shares in Qualcomm fell about 3 percent and those in rival Broadcom declined 1.7 percent after the Singapore-based chipmaker formally withdrew its bid for Qualcomm Inc but said it would pursue other targets.
Ford shares were up 4.3 percent after Morgan Stanley double-upgraded the stock to "overweight" and raised its earnings forecast for the first time in two years.
Signet Jewelers fell about 14 percent after the company reported lower same-store sales in the fourth quarter.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,744 to 796. On the Nasdaq, 1,320 issues rose and 1,004 fell.