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Wall Street stutters as trade tensions escalate

Devdiscourse News Desk | New York | Updated: 18-05-2019 02:08 IST | Created: 18-05-2019 02:08 IST
Wall Street stutters as trade tensions escalate
Image Credit: Flickr

Wall Street ended lower on Friday as continuing trade tensions pulled industrial and tech shares down, and the Dow capped a fourth straight week of losses in its longest weekly losing streak in three years.

While all three major U.S. indexes struggled for direction for much of the session, they turned decisively negative following a report from CNBC that U.S.-China trade negotiations have stalled.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq suffered their second successive weekly declines after U.S. stocks failed to fully recover from Monday's steep sell-off.

"It is not unusual for stocks to weaken at the end of a week," said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia. "The possibility of something weird happening over the weekend leads people to take money off the table as the week comes to a close."

China added fuel to the fire of the increasingly rancorous trade war with the United States, striking a more aggressive tone and suggesting further talks could be fruitless unless Washington changes course.

Elsewhere in the multi-front U.S. tariff war, President Donald Trump confirmed he would delay imposing imported auto tariffs by as much as six months, and agreed to lift metal tariffs on Canada and Mexico.

Trade headlines overshadowed upbeat economic data. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index jumped 5.3% in May to its highest reading in 15 years.

"After earnings season the market seems to shift to these macro factors that are difficult to predict and difficult to trade on," Tuz added. "You see more whipsawing in the markets in this kind of environment."

Tariff jitters also dragged on key industrial shares. Farm equipment maker Deere & Co was the biggest percentage loser on the S&P 500, dipping 7.7% after cutting its full-year forecast.

Caterpillar Inc, 3M Co, Textron, General Dynamics and Fedex Corp all helped pull the industrial sector 1.1% lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 98.68 points, or 0.38%, to 25,764, the S&P 500 lost 16.79 points, or 0.58%, to 2,859.53 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 81.76 points, or 1.04%, to 7,816.29.

Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, all but utilities closed in the red, with industrials and energy seeing the largest percentage losses. With 460 of S&P 500 companies having posted first-quarter results, 75.2% of which beat analyst expectations, the mostly upbeat first-quarter earnings season is nearly complete.

Analysts now expect first-quarter earnings growth of 1.4%, a significant turnaround from the 2% loss expected on April 1. Active wear company Under Armour Inc gained 7.8% following JP Morgan's upgrade of the stock to "overweight." Pinterest Inc slumped 13.5% after its first quarterly earnings report as a publicly-traded company.

Shares of Luckin Coffee Inc jumped 19.9% as the Chinese challenger to Starbucks Corp made its debut. Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.96-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.52-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 33 new 52-week highs and 6 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 55 new highs and 101 new lows. Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.71 billion shares, compared to the 6.98 billion average over the last 20 trading days.


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