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U.S. Stocks Close Little Changed After Another Choppy Session

wallstreet july27 06nov19 lt

Stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading session on Wednesday, extending the lackluster performance seen in the previous session. The major averages once again spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

Eventually, the major averages ended the session mixed. While the S&P 500 inched up 2.16 points or 0.1 percent to 3,076.78, the Dow edged down 0.07 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 27,492.56 and the Nasdaq dipped 24.05 points or 0.3 percent to 8,410.63.

The choppy trading on Wall Street came as traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves amid some uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets after the recent run to record highs.

Optimism about a potential U.S.-China trade deal contributed to the strength on Wall Street, but traders now seem to be looking for more concrete developments.

Stocks moved to the downside after a report from Reuters said a meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could be delayed until December, although selling pressure waned shortly afterward.

A senior Trump administration official told Reuters discussions continue over terms of phase one of the trade deal and a venue for a meeting between Trump and Xi.

Sites in Europe and Asia have been suggested for the meeting, with Sweden and Switzerland among the possibilities, while Trump's suggestion of Iowa appears to have been ruled out, the official said.

The official said China's latest push for more tariff rollbacks was not expected to derail progress toward an interim deal but noted that it was still possible an agreement would not be reached.

On the U.S. economic front, preliminary data released by the Labor Department showed labor productivity in the U.S. unexpectedly edged lower in the third quarter.

The report said labor productivity dipped by 0.3 percent in the third quarter after spiking by an upwardly revised 2.5 percent in the second quarter.

The drop came as a surprise to economists, who had expected productivity to climb by 0.9 percent compared to the 2.3 percent jump originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said unit labor costs soared by 3.6 percent in the third quarter after surging up by a downwardly revised 2.4 percent in the second quarter.

Economists had expected unit labor costs to jump by 2.2 percent compared to the 2.6 percent spike originally reported for the previous month.

Sector News

Most of the major sectors ended the day showing only modest moves, although energy stocks saw substantial weakness amid a significant pullback by the price of crude oil.

After reaching a high of $57.85 a barrel, crude for December delivery slumped $0.88 to $56.35 a barrel following the release of a report showing a much bigger than expected weekly jump in crude oil inventories.

Reflecting the weakness in the energy sector, the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index plunged by 3.1 percent, while the Philadelphia Oil Service Index and the NYSE Arca Oil Index tumbled by 2.9 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.

Telecom stocks also saw considerable weakness on the day, dragging the NYSE Arca North American Telecom Index down by 1.8 percent. The index ended the session at its lowest closing level in ten months.

On the other hand, gold stocks showed a strong move to the upside, with the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index surging up by 1.6 percent.

The strength among gold stocks came amid a rebound by the price of the precious metal, as gold for December delivery climbed $9.40 to $1,493.10 an ounce after plummeting $27.40 to $1,483.70 an ounce on Tuesday.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.2 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved modestly higher on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index inched up by 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries regained ground after moving sharply lower over the three previous sessions. Subsequently the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, slid 5.2 basis points to 1.814 percent.

Looking Ahead

A report on weekly jobless claims may attract attention on Thursday, although traders are likely to remain focus on any news regarding a trade deal.

On the earnings front, Qualcomm (QCOM), Expedia (EXPE), Fox Corp. (FOXA), and Hostess (TWNK) are among the companies releasing their quarterly results after the close of today's trading.

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