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Stocks slip as US-China trade uncertainty muddles markets

US markets across the board finished the day down a hair
Wall Street sign
Despite a great day from Ctrip, the Nasdaq closed down Tuesday

US stocks ended slightly lower as uncertainty over trade talks with China continued to cloud the market outlook.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell less than 0.1% to close at 25806.6. The Nasdaq followed suit, despite a nearly 20 percent gain from Chinese travel company International Ltd (NASDAQ:CTRIP), dropping a mere 1.2 points to 7576.4.

The S&P 500 was down 0.1% to 2789.7. The Russell 2000 had a worse day, declining 0.5% to end at 1568.3.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX Composite advanced 0.3% to 16086.5.

3:50 pm: Stocks fluctuate as US-China trade concern drives market

US stocks swung between gains and losses as questions remained regarding the outcome of US-China trade talks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.1%, or 22.92 points, to 25842.57 in late-afternoon trading. The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.2% to  7591.27.

Faring best among the Nasdaq companies was the Chinese online travel booker International Ltd (NASDAQ:CTRP), which climbed 21% to $42.22 thanks to better-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue.

The S&P 500 Index was up less than 0.1% to 2793.75

Kohl’s Corp (NYSE:KSS) rose 8% to $71.77 while Target Corp (NYSE:TGT) climbed 5% to $76.32 following reports of strong same-store growth during the fourth quarter.

The Russell 2000 was having a down day, falling 0.4% to 1569.82.

Up in Canada, the S&P/TSX Composite advanced 0.3% to 16,087.50.

10:25 am: US markets creep downward as China trade talks remain in focus

There’s little movement to be found at the start of trading as US-China trade talks continue to loom large over Wall Street.

On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he believed the two nations were “on the cusp” of a deal to end the ongoing trade battle, but markets have yet to demonstrate similar optimism.

Retail chains Kohl’s Corp (NYSE:KSS) and Target Corp (NYSE:TGT) headline the early gainers—both were up more than 3% to $75 Tuesday Morning after beating fourth-quarter expectations, per CNBC. Target’s digital sales increased 25%, the company said. Both companies boasted strong same-store sales growth, respectively. Kohl’s stock rose even higher, up 5.3% to $69.99.

On the whole, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped fractionally to 25786.2, the Nasdaq ticked down just 1.7 points to 7575.8 and the S&P 500 fell slightly to 2790.2.

The small-cap-tracking Russell 2000 dipped 0.2% to 1572.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 was up 0.4% to 7164.6, the German DAX was down 0.3% to 25.69 and the French CAC 40 fell one 10th of a percent to 5282.

7:47 am: Wall Street seen reversing Monday's losses at open as Chinese growth in focus

US stocks are poised for a higher open after a negative finish as investors brace for a round of retail earnings, while European indices are mixed at the time of writing.

Wall Street shares closed firmly in the red on Monday as a report issued late on indicated a 0.6% dip in construction spending, which weighed on sentiment.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down around 206 points at 25,819, while the Nasdaq index fell almost 18 points to 7,577.

The S&P 500  shed almost 11 at 2,792.

In futures trade, the Dow Jones is up 44 points at the time of writing; the Nasdaq is up ten and the  S&P 500 is up around four points.

Target Corp (NYSE:TGT), the eighth-largest US retailer, is due to report earnings before the opening bell, while Barnes & Noble Education Inc (NYSE:BNED) and department store chain Kohl's Corp (NYSE:KSS) are also set to post their numbers in pre-market. Ross Stores Inc (NASDAQ:ROST) and Urban Outfitters Inc earnings (NASDAQ:URBN) are due after the close.

In macro news Tuesday, China has revealed it is cutting business taxes to prevent the economy from slowing down even more. The People's Republic is now forecasting growth this year of between 6% and 6.5%, which even some experts believe may be on the optimistic side.

Also ahead in the US, traders will be eyeing new home sales data due at 10 am eastern time. The Institute for Supply Management will also publish its non-manufacturing index at the same time.

In Europe, the  FTSE 100 added around 14 at 7,148, while the German DAX is down 17 and the French CAC 40 is around 12 lower.

James Hughes, the market analyst at London-based Axitrader, said: "Wall Street took something of a beating during Monday’s session as trade talk fatigue once again took a toll on sentiment.

"Concerns are coming in from multiple corners now, with worries that the deal will end up being weighted too heavily in China’s favour and that it’s too late to stem the slowdown that’s being seen elsewhere in the global economy doing little to impress. What’s more, US construction data for December which was released yesterday afternoon fell into negative territory, providing further upset for the markets."

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