Stocks Edge Up as Investors Parse Trade Headlines

Date : 12/05/2019 @ 10:16PM
Source : Dow Jones News

Stocks Edge Up as Investors Parse Trade Headlines

By Karen Langley and Paul J. Davies 

U.S. stocks edged higher Thursday as investors parsed the latest headlines on the trade dispute with China and looked ahead to Friday's jobs report.

It was a subdued trading day, with major indexes inching downward in the morning before recovering to close the session in positive territory.

The S&P 500 rose 4.67 points, or 0.2%, to 3117.43, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 28.01 points, or 0.1%, to 27677.79. The Nasdaq Composite inched up 4.03 points, or less than 0.1%, to 8570.70.

Trade-related news has driven markets this week. China again offered reassurance Thursday on the state of trade talks between the world's two largest economies, with a spokesman for China's Commerce Ministry saying the negotiating teams have maintained close communications.

That followed comments from President Trump who had suggested earlier in the week that the talks could continue well into next year, spooking investors and pushing major indexes lower. Mr. Trump later said the talks were going "very well."

Investors have been watching the negotiations particularly closely with the approach of the next wave of proposed tariff increases, which are due to go into effect Dec. 15.

"I think you'll see more volatility around trade war coming up as this December 15 deadline looms," said Sandy Villere, portfolio manager at the Villere Balanced Fund.

Mr. Villere said he has watched trade-related market drops for opportunities to buy particular stocks whose prices have been pushed down. He said his fund added shares of ON Semiconductor earlier this year.

Although major U.S. stock indexes have declined so far this week, they have posted double-digit gains for the year. The S&P 500 has climbed 24% in 2019.

Sébastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management, speculated that by the end of next week, "Trump will be willing to say that tariff increases are unnecessary because talks have progressed."

Meanwhile, fresh economic data Thursday showed the number of Americans applying for first-time unemployment benefits fell last week, missing expectations of economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal.

Investors will closely watch Friday's nonfarm payrolls data for additional insights into the health of the U.S. jobs market. The employment figures could turn weaker given the slowdown in corporate investment spending and the weakening in new job openings reported earlier this week.

"It's possible we start to see an easing in the jobs market," Mr. Galy said.

As broad stock indexes showed muted moves, earnings reports drove swings in individual stocks. Shares of fashion retailer Express jumped $1.09, or 28%, to $5 after it reported third-quarter sales that beat expectations. Shares of Five Below rose $5.61, or 4.8%, to $123.67 after the discount retailer beat estimates for the third quarter.

Shares of RH, formerly known as Restoration Hardware, leapt $27.55, or 13%, to $233.17, a new record, after the luxury-furniture retailer issued a bullish forecast around a planned international expansion.

And Michaels shares fell $1.13, or 16%, to $6.08 after the crafts retailer reported a drop in profit. Shares of Brown-Forman fell $4.27, or 6.3%, to $63.57 after the maker of Jack Daniel's whiskey lowered its guidance.

Among the sectors in the S&P 500, materials, technology and communications services led the way, while shares of energy, consumer-discretionary and consumer-staples companies lost ground.

In Asia, the Hang Seng Index gained 0.6%, while the Shanghai Composite rose 0.7%. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.1%.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.795%, from 1.781% Wednesday.

Write to Karen Langley at karen.langley@wsj.com and Paul J. Davies at paul.davies@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 05, 2019 17:01 ET (22:01 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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