Stocks wobble, dollar slips as traders shrug off trade talk
Major U.S. stock indexes are drifting between small gains and losses as traders shrug off the latest trade threats from President Donald Trump and focus on company earnings reports, which contained some better-than-expected results from big names including Microsoft. Industrial conglomerate Honeywell is also higher. General Electric fell after saying its power business is still struggling. The dollar fell and bond yields rose, which is sending high-dividend companies lower. Small-company stocks, which have done well in recent days, lagged the market.
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KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index picked up 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,809 as of 11:45 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 55 points, or 0.2 percent, to 25,119. The Nasdaq composite rose 28 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,853. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks was little changed at 1,700.
More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange.
Stocks have wobbled this week as investors reacted to solid company results and heightened trade tensions. The S&P 500 is up 0.2 percent for the week, while the Russell, which is made up of more domestically-oriented companies that could hold up better in a prolonged trade dispute, is up 0.8 percent.
EARNINGS: Microsoft continued to set records after its fiscal fourth-quarter results topped Wall Street forecasts and its cloud computing division continued to grow. The company said it's being helped by its rivalry with Amazon, because some retailers are reluctant to team up with Amazon on cloud computing services while they compete with Amazon in sales. The stock climbed 2.6 percent to $107.16.
General Electric lost 4.9 percent to $13.06. Elsewhere, industrial conglomerate Honeywell rose 4 percent to $153.40 after it raised its forecast for the year. Uniform supplier Cintas gained 4.7 percent to $202.69.
Shoe maker Skechers plunged after its estimates for the third quarter fell far short of analyst expectations. The company said its U.S. wholesale business and international distributor business both saw their sales drop in the last quarter. The stock sank 23.7 percent to $25.37.
MORE TARIFF TALK: In a taped interview with the business channel CNBC, Trump said "I'm willing to go to 500," referring roughly to the $505.5 billion in goods the U.S. imported last year from China. Earlier this month the U.S. placed import taxes on $34 billion in goods imported from China and Beijing responded in kind. The Trump administration is considering tariffs on another $200 billion in goods.
The dispute between the world's two largest economies stems from accusations that China steals technology from U.S. companies or forces them to hand over technology to Chinese companies as well as differences over the U.S. trade deficit with China. Investors have worried that the trade war and other disputes involving the U.S. could slow down the global economy.
The U.S. government put tariffs on imported steel, aluminum, washing machines and solar panels this year and is considering taxing auto imports. Representatives of the auto industry asked Congress to oppose that move on Thursday. Companies that sell cars and car parts continued to slip Friday morning. General Motors fell 0.2 percent to $39.25 and Ford lost 0.8 percent to $10.59. BorgWarner fell 0.6 percent to $44.77.
BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.89 percent from 2.85 percent. That helped banks because bond yields are used to set interest rates on many kinds of loans including mortgages. High-dividend stocks like real estate investment trusts and utilities fell as investors shifted their money out of those stocks and into bonds.
YUAN DECLINES: The People's Bank of China weakened the country's currency against the dollar on Friday. If the yuan continues to depreciate, goods exported to China will become more expensive to consumers there. Chinese exports would also be relatively cheaper, possibly balancing out suggested increases in tariffs by the Trump Administration. The yuan has been skidding since February, mostly because of slower economic growth in China and rising interest rates in the U.S.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude added 0.4 percent to $69.77 a barrel in New York and Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 0.4 percent to $72.86 a barrel in London.
OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX lost 0.9 percent and France's CAC 40 slid 0.3 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 gave up 0.1 percent. South Korea's Kospi added 0.3 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.8 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 percent.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 111.81 yen from 112.46 yen. The euro rose to $1.1705 from $1.1644.
Annabelle Liang contributed from Singapore.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jay
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