US stocks eased on Monday as reports on the US-China trade front kept investors cautious ahead of scheduled talks later in the week. A report that Beijing was increasingly reluctant to agree to a broad trade deal pursued by President Donald Trump weighed on sentiment early.

But White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow helped ease some anxiety, saying it was possible US and Chinese trade negotiators could make progress when they meet in Washington, and said the United States was open to looking at what proposals Beijing brought. Stocks briefly traded higher in the afternoon after a Fox reporter tweeted that the Chinese commerce ministry said China is ready to do a deal with the United States on parts of negotiations.

US and Chinese deputy trade negotiators launched a new round of talks on Monday aimed at resolving the two nations’ 15-month trade war, while the White House officially confirmed that the high-level talks, involving Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would begin on Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 95.7 points, or 0.36 per cent, to 26,478.02, the S&P 500 lost 13.22 points, or 0.45 per cent, to 2,938.79 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 26.18 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 7,956.29.

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