Trader Michale Milano, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. Stocks are opening slightly lower on Wall Street led by a decline in technology companies. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Major indexes edge lower amid trade talk concerns

November 14, 2019 - 2:44 pm

Major stock indexes were little changed on Wall Street late Thursday afternoon after a day of mostly listless trading kept the market hovering near its latest all-time high.

The indexes wavered between small gains and losses as investors sized up mixed earnings reports from Walmart, Cisco Systems and other companies.

Traders also weighed headlines suggesting that trade talks between the U.S. and China have hit some snags. Beijing is pressing Washington to roll back tariffs as part of a potential deal that the nations are trying to hammer out.

President Donald Trump has been dismissive about any change on tariffs while negotiations continue. The latest potential hurdle comes a day after reports said that China is reluctant to commit to a specific amount of U.S. farm good purchases.

Investors hope that both nations can come to some sort of an agreement to avert new and potentially more damaging tariffs that are scheduled to take effect in the middle of next month. Those new tariffs would hit some popular consumer products, such as electronic devices, as well as everyday goods.

While the market has been sensitive to the swings in the trade talks, the latest speculation did not put most investors in a selling mood.

“We've had headlines like this before and the market is doing a little bit better job of looking through them,” said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “Until something is announced, yay or nay, it probably doesn't make much sense to trade on it, especially when President Trump himself has tweeted out that talks are going well."

Technology stocks were the biggest losers. Cisco Systems fell 7.2% after giving investors a surprisingly weak revenue forecast.

Banks also moved broadly lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.82% from 1.87% late Wednesday. Lower bond yields hurt banks’ ability to charge more lucrative interest rates on mortgages and other loans.

Retailers and other companies that rely on consumer spending held up best. Lowe’s rose 1.6% and Target added 2%. Walmart, which had been solidly higher earlier after reporting strong third-quarter results and raising its annual profit expectations, fell 0.7%.

Industrial and communication services stocks also notched gains. Boeing rose 1.6% and Netflix climbed 2.6%.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was up 0.1% as of 3:40 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1 point, or less than 0.1% to 27,781. The Nasdaq added less than 0.1%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks dropped less than 0.1%.

European markets closed broadly lower.

MARKET OVERVIEW: Stocks are still trading near records. Both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average reached new highs on Wednesday.

The broader market has been gaining ground for weeks on hopes that the U.S. and China can make progress in their latest push for a deal. Investors have also been encouraged by surprisingly good corporate earnings and data showing the economy is still growing solidly.

CHINA’S CHICKEN ORDER: Processed food companies, including Tyson Foods, moved higher after China decided to lift its four-year ban on U.S. poultry imports.

Tyson rose 1.5%, Sanderson Farms gained 3.8% and Pilgrim’s Pride edged up 1%.

The U.S. is the world’s second largest poultry exporter, with global exports of poultry meat and products of $4.3 billion last year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that more than $1 billion in poultry could be exported to China annually.

DILLARD’S DELIVERS: Shares of Dillard’s jumped 15.9% after the department store operator surprised Wall Street with a fiscal third-quarter profit and solid sales.

BAD CONNECTION: Cisco Systems slumped 7.3% after the seller of routers, switches and software issued a weak revenue forecast for its fiscal second quarter.

WORTH KEEPING: NetApp climbed 3.4% after the data storage company’s fiscal second-quarter profit beat Wall Street forecasts.


AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise contributed.

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