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Wall Street wavers as investors eye trade talks, growth fears

Reuters  |  NEW YORK 

By Stephen Culp

(Reuters) - Wall Street see-sawed on Monday, rarely straying far from opening levels as investors eyed ongoing U.S.-trade talks, potential congressional gridlock and a diminished 2019 earnings outlook.

The S&P 500 and the eked out nominal gains while the blue chip Dow edged lower.

Both and expressed optimism about trade negotiations between the world's two largest economies, even as a U.S. Navy mission in the disputed Sea provoked China's anger.

In Washington, congressional leaders attempted to reach an agreement on border security funding in a bid to avert another government shutdown.

With two-thirds of S&P 500 companies having reported, the fourth-quarter earnings season approached the home stretch. So far, 71.2 percent have posted better-than-expected profits.

Fourth-quarter earnings growth is now estimated at 16.5 percent, up from 15.8 percent at the beginning of the year.

But first-quarter 2019 profit growth expectations have diminished. Analysts now see the year starting with quarterly earnings dropping 0.2 percent from last year, which would mark the first contraction since the second quarter of 2016.

"It speaks to concerns about the global slowdown that people are growing more aware of," said Robert Pavlik, at in "It's the effects of tariffs and a somewhat tighter monetary policy.

"Guidance has been a mixed bag and trade uncertainty is the connecting issue," Pavlik added.

The fell 53.22 points, or 0.21 percent, to 25,053.11, the S&P 500 gained 1.92 points, or 0.07 percent, to 2,709.8 and the Composite added 9.71 points, or 0.13 percent, to 7,307.91.

Losses on Monday were concentrated. Of the 11 S&P sectors, only communications services, utilities and closed in the red.

Tariff-sensitive industrial stocks provided the biggest lift to the S&P 500, led by Union Pacific Corp, and FedEx Corp, among others.

stocks were the biggest drag on the Dow, pulled down by and and Merck & Co, each down more than 1 percent.

Shares of rose 2.3 percent after Cannacord Genuity upgraded the stock to "buy" from "hold." It said the electric automaker's recent price cuts are helping achieve its goal of an affordable Model 3.

edged 0.6 percent lower after industry research firm said in a report that sales in fell by 20 percent in the fourth quarter.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.86-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.52-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 32 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Composite recorded 62 new highs and 23 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.23 billion shares, compared with the 7.43 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

(Reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by Dan Grebler)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, February 12 2019. 03:03 IST
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