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Major Averages Close Mixed Following Lackluster Session - U.S. Commentary


Stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Friday, extending the lackluster performance seen in the previous session. While the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 remained confined to negative territory, the Dow spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

The major averages eventually ended the session mixed. The Dow inched up 1.11 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 24,715.09, but the Nasdaq fell 28.13 points or 0.4 percent to 7,354.34 and the S&P 500 dipped 7.16 points or 0.3 percent to 2,712.97.

For the week, the major averages all moved to the downside. The Nasdaq slid by 0.7 percent, while the Dow and the S&P 500 both dropped by 0.5 percent.

The choppy trading on Wall Street came as traders seemed reluctant to make more significant moves amid a quiet day on the U.S. economic front.

Uncertainty about the outcome of the second round of trade talks between the U.S. and China also kept some traders on the sidelines.

Various news outlets said China had offered to reduce its trade surplus with the U.S. by $200 billion, although Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang quickly denied the reports.

"This rumor is not true. This, I can confirm," Lu told reporters. "I do not know about the offers made by either party."

He added, "As we know the consultations are still underway. I am not getting ahead of that. The consultations themselves are constructive."

On Thursday, President Donald Trump expressed some doubt about whether the high-level trade talks with China will be successful.

Trump told reporters he tends to doubt the talks will be successful in remarks during an Oval Office meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

"The reason I doubt it is because China has become very spoiled," Trump said. "The European Union has become very spoiled. Other countries have become very spoiled, because they always got 100 percent of whatever they wanted from the United States."

However, Trump also claimed he would not allow the U.S. to be taken advantage of anymore and sounded more optimistic in later remarks.

"I can only tell you this; we're going to come out fine with China," Trump said. "Hopefully, China's going to be happy. I think we will be happy."

Sector News

Most of the major sectors ended the day showing modest moves, contributing to the lackluster close by the broader markets.

Steel gas stocks saw significant weakness, however, with the NYSE Arca Steel Index slumping by 1.5 percent. The index pulled back further off the nearly three-month closing high set on Wednesday.

Considerable weakness was also visible among natural gas stocks, as reflected by the 1.5 percent loss posted by the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index. The drop by the index came after it ended the previous session at its best closing level in almost two months.

The pullback by natural gas stocks came amid a decrease by the price of the commodity, as natural gas for June delivery dipped $0.012 to $2.847 per million BTUs.

Semiconductor, banking, and computer hardware stocks also saw notable weakness on the day, while housing stocks showed a strong move to the upside.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index climbed by 0.4 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index surged up by 1.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets saw modest weakness on the day. While the German DAX Index fell by 0.3 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both edged down by 0.1 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries regained some ground after trending lower in recent sessions. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, dropped by 4.2 basis points to 3.067 percent.

Looking Ahead

The economic calendar for next week starts off relatively light, although reports on new and existing home sales and durable goods orders are likely to attract attention as the week progresses.

The Federal Reserve is also scheduled to release the minutes of its latest monetary policy meeting next Wednesday, potentially shedding light on the outlook for interest rates.

On the earnings front, Toll Brothers (TOL), Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Lowe's (LOW), Target (TGT), Best Buy (BBY), Medtronic (MDT), and Gap (GPS) are among the companies due to release their quarterly results next week.

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