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U.S. Stocks Close Modestly Higher On The Day But Lower For The Week

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After moving mostly lower over the past few sessions, stocks turned in a lackluster performance during trading on Friday. The major averages showed a lack of direction but managed to end the session modestly higher.

The Dow rose 109.33 points or 0.4 percent to 27,875.62, the Nasdaq edged up 13.67 points or 0.2 percent to 8,519.88 and the S&P 500 inched up 6.75 points or 0.2 percent to 3,110.29.

Despite the gains on the day, the major averages all moved lower for the week. The Dow fell by 0.5 percent, while the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 dipped by 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

The choppy trading on the day came as traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves amid lingering uncertainty about a U.S.-China trade deal.

Recent reports have suggested the signing of a phase one trade deal could be delayed until next year as U.S. and Chinese officials struggle to reach agreement on core issues.

The next round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods is set to take effect on December 15th, potentially complicating efforts to reach an agreement.

In remarks at Bloomberg's New Economy Forum in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China wants to work toward a phase one agreement on the basis of mutual respect and equality but will fight back if necessary.

Xi met with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at the forum, reportedly describing U.S.-China relations as being at a critical juncture

"China and the United States should step up communication on strategic concerns to avoid misjudgment and enhance mutual understanding," Xi told Kissinger, according to China's state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump said in an interview on Fox News this morning that a trade agreement with China is "very close" and that the two economic superpowers have a "very good chance to make a deal."

Traders largely shrugged off a report from the University of Michigan showing a much bigger than expected upward revision to its reading on U.S. consumer sentiment in the month of November.

The report said the consumer sentiment index for November was upwardly revised to 96.8 from the preliminary reading of 95.7. The revised reading is well above the final October reading of 95.5.

Sector News

Steel stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the trading session, driving the NYSE Arca Steel Index up by 2.1 percent.

Significant strength also emerged among natural gas stocks, as reflected by the 1.5 percent gain posted by the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index.

The strength in the natural gas sector came amid a substantial increase by the price of the commodity, as natural gas for December delivery jumped $0.098 or 3.8 percent to $2.665 per million BTUs.

Banking and transportation stocks also moved to the upside on the day, while notable weakness among computer hardware stocks led to a 1.5 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Friday, although Chinese stocks bucked the uptrend. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.3 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed by 0.5 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index surged up by 1.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both edged up by 0.2 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries pulled back near the unchanged line after seeing initial strength. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, inched up by less than a basis point to 1.774 percent.

Looking Ahead

Next week's trading may be somewhat subdued due to the Thanksgiving Day holiday on Thursday, although traders are likely to keep an eye on reports on new home sales, consumer confidence, durable goods orders, and personal income and spending.

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