(Reuters) – U.S. stock indexes moved in a flat-to-low range on Friday as investors gauged Sino-U.S. tensions amid continued uncertainty over the pace of economic recovery from the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump’s warning on Thursday that the U.S. would react strongly to China’s plan for a national security law in Hong Kong raised concerns over Washington and Beijing possibly reneging on their Phase-1 trade deal.

The rhetoric knocked Wall Street off multi-month highs, although the main indexes were still set to add between 2.8% and 3.1% for the week on optimism over a vaccine and the easing of virus-related curbs.

Fears of a renewed trade war had paused Wall Street’s April rally and injected a degree of caution, keeping them in a tight range.

“It’s being treated as the beginning of some tensions that are likely to get worse before they get better,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

“The market will react in an evidence-based way. It’s not racing to any conclusions on how bad these tensions get.”

At 1:13 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 100.93 points, or 0.41%, at 24,373.19, the S&P 500 was down 3.26 points, or 0.11%, at 2,945.25. The Nasdaq Composite was up 15.28 points, or 0.16%, at 9,300.16.

Eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sub-indexes were trading lower, led by energy as oil prices sank 5%. [O/R]

Real Estate and utilities were up in some defensive plays, while losses were limited in the consumer staples sector.

Mixed retail earnings from Walmart Inc, Best Buy Co Inc and Home Depot Inc earlier this week showed online shopping gaining traction due to the stay-at-home orders, a trend that could damage brick-and-mortar players.

On Friday, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group reported better-than-expected quarterly profit, but its shares slipped 5.7%. Smaller rival Pinduoduo Inc’s U.S.-listed shares gained 11% after posting upbeat earnings report.

KKR & Co rose 1.1% after India’s Reliance Industries said the private equity firm would buy 2.3% stake in its digital unit for 113.67 billion rupees ($1.50 billion).

Data analytics software maker Splunk Inc rose 12% after saying it expects more demand for its cloud services.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.58-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.27-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded five new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 49 new highs and seven new lows.

Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru and Pawel Goraj in Gdansk; Editing by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Arun Koyyur

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