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U.S. Stocks Continue To Experience Choppy Trading

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After showing a lack of direction early in the session, stocks continue to turn in a lackluster performance in mid-day trading on Monday. The major averages have spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

Currently, the major averages are turning in a mixed performance. While the S&P 500 is down 0.71 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 2,969.56, the Dow is up 34.46 points 0.1 percent at 26,851.05 and the Nasdaq is up 3.34 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 8,060.38.

The choppy trading on Wall Street comes amid light trading due to the Columbus Day holiday as well as renewed uncertainty about a trade deal with China.

President Donald Trump announced on Friday that the U.S. and China have reached a "very substantial phase one deal," although reports this morning suggest China wants another round of talks before signing the agreement.

A person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News that China may send a delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He to finalize a written deal that could be signed at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next month in Chile.

Another person told Bloomberg China wants Trump to also scrap a planned tariff hike in December in addition to the hike scheduled for this week.

Trump said the deal includes up to $40 to $50 billion in Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural products as well as Chinese concessions on intellectual property and financial services.

In exchange for the concessions by China, the U.S. agreed to hold off on an increase in tariffs originally scheduled for this week.

Trump claimed in a tweet on Sunday that China has agreed to immediately start buying large quantities of U.S. agricultural products, but the Chinese have not followed through on similar pledges in the past.

A light day on the U.S. economic front is also keeping traders on the sidelines, although reports on retail sales, housing starts and industrial production are likely to attract attention in the coming days.

Most of the major sectors continue to show only modest moves on the day, although significant weakness remains visible among natural gas stocks.

The NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index has climbed off its worst levels but remains down by 1.7 percent, with the weakness in the sector coming despite an increase by the price of natural gas.

Steel and oil service stocks are also seeing notable weakness in mid-day trading, while gold stocks are rebounding along with the price of the precious metal.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Monday, although the Japanese markets were closed for a holiday. China's Shanghai Composite Index surged up by 1.2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed by 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has fallen by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.3 percent and the German DAX Index is down by 0.2 percent.

The bond markets are closed for Columbus Day. Treasuries showed a significant move to the downside last week amid renewed optimism about a U.S.-China trade deal.

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