US markets have ended little changed after a choppy session, amid lingering questions over trade and Federal Reserve interventions to ensure financial market liquidity. The Dow Jones was up 14 points at 26,949, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were essentially flat at 2,991 and 7,818.

After three straight weeks of gains, major indices fell last week amid continuing worries over the US-China trade dispute and a spike in oil prices after an attack on Saudi Arabian oil assets that the US has blamed on Iran.

Analysts said weak European manufacturing data weighed on sentiment somewhat, but “US stocks remain very strong in an international comparison”, said Gorilla Trades strategist Ken Berman.

Analysts cited remarks late Friday from US President Donald Trump downplaying the odds of a China trade deal before the 2020 presidential election as adding downward pressure to markets.

Investor confidence has also been challenged by sudden moves by the New York Federal Reserve to boost liquidity in the financial system and prevent short-term interest rates from rising too high.

New York Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams defended the moves: “We were prepared for such an event, acted quickly and appropriately and our actions were successful.”

But he said it remains important to “examine these recent market dynamics” that led to the situations, and “we will continue to monitor and analyse developments closely”.

But St Louis Fed President James Bullard said there is a risk the economic slowdown will be “sharper than expected,” and warned the trade uncertainty will be a feature for years ahead so the world “should prepare for a future with somewhat higher tariffs and non-tariff barriers.” (AFP)