Stocks Turn Mixed After a Strong Week Caps a Volatile Month

(AP) -
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Major stock indexes were mixed on Wall Street in afternoon trading Friday, though the market remained on track to notch solid gains for the week after four straight weeks of losses.

Despite marching higher most of this week, the market is on track to finish August with a loss. That would be only the second monthly decline this year after May.

Technology, communication-services and consumer-goods companies fell, outweighing gains elsewhere in the market. Adobe dropped 1.7%, Netflix lost 1.8% and Altria Group slid 1.5%.

Energy companies headed lower as the price of U.S. crude oil slumped 3.2%. Marathon Oil lost 3%.

Banks and industrial stocks were among the gainers. Wells Fargo rose 1.3% and General Electric added 1.4%.

Investors weighed a mixed batch of corporate earnings reports. Campbell Soup jumped 6.5% and Big Lots added 1.9%. Both companies reported quarterly profits that easily beat analysts’ forecasts. Ulta Beauty plunged 29% after reporting weak results and cutting its estimates.

The S&P 500 was down 0.1% as of 2 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 5 points, or less than 0.1%, to 26,366. The Nasdaq gave up an early gain, sliding 0.4%.

Major stock indexes in Europe closed higher.

While the major U.S. indexes have stemmed some of their losses from earlier this month, they remain down more than 1% for the month.

Trading turned volatile in August as investors worried that the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China and slowing global economy could tip the U.S. into a recession. The bond market seemingly confirmed these fears when long-term bond yields fell below short-term ones, a so-called inversion in the U.S. yield curve that has correctly predicted previous recessions.

Bond prices fell Friday, but long-term bond yields continued to trail short-term ones. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.52% from 1.51% late Thursday. The 2-year Treasury yield rose to 1.53% from 1.55% the day before.

Washington and Beijing are deadlocked in talks over U.S. complaints about China’s trade surplus and industry plans, which its trading partners say are based on stealing or pressuring companies to hand over technology.

Last week, the trade conflict escalated again with both sides threatening new tariffs on each other’s goods, triggering a sharp sell-off in global markets.

Some of the Trump administration’s additional tariffs on Chinese products take effect Sunday and others on Dec. 15. In addition, higher tariffs on a separate group of Chinese products are to take effect Oct. 1.

Still, investors were encouraged by a Chinese government statement Thursday that its penalties on U.S. products are adequate. That suggested Beijing might be pausing in a tit-for-tat cycle of tariff increases by both sides that has raised fears the global economy might tip into recession.

Negotiators meet next month in Washington after the latest round of talks in July in Shanghai produced no sign of progress.

U.S. markets will be closed Monday for Labor Day.