Stocks Slip as Uncertainty Reigns In U.S.-China Trade Talks


U.S. stocks mostly fell on Monday as uncertainty continues to hang over U.S.-China trade talks, or at least over investors’ perception of them.

The stock market has been rallying for five weeks in part on optimism that the United States and China are nearing a stopgap deal to calm their dispute. But President Donald Trump said over the weekend that reports about U.S. willingness to lift tariffs were “incorrect,” only two days after a Chinese official said both sides agreed to rollbacks if talks progress.

Stocks dropped as soon as trading began Monday, and the S&P 500 lost as much as 0.6% from its record level, though indexes pared their losses as the day progressed.

By the end of trading, the S&P 500 was down 6.07 points, or 0.2%, at 3,087.01. The Nasdaq composite slipped 11.04, or 0.1%, to 8,464.28.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was an outlier and eked out another record, in large part because of a big gain for Boeing. It added 10.25 points, or less than 0.1%, to 27,691.49.

A still-strong job market, interest-rate cuts by the Federal Reserve and better-than-expected corporate earnings in the summer have all contributed to a nearly 9% leap for the S&P 500 since late August.

Stocks in the financial and energy industries have been generally rising since Mr. Trump said last month that the U.S. and China were negotiating “Phase One” of a trade deal. But these so-called “cyclical” stocks, whose profits are closely tied to the economic cycle, were among Monday’s losers.

Monday’s best-performing stocks were real-estate investment trusts, which rose 0.2% for the biggest gain among the 11 sectors that make up the S&P 500. The group pays relatively big dividends, and investors have flocked to them and away from “cyclical” stocks when worries are high that the trade war will hurt the economy.

Boeing soared 4.5% after it said it hopes to resume deliveries of its 737 Max jet next month.

On the losing end were energy stocks, which had some of the market’s sharpest losses as the price of oil weakened. Cabot Oil & Gas dropped 3.4%, Occidental Petroleum lost 3% and Marathon Oil fell 3%.

Bond markets were closed in observance of Veterans Day.

Earnings season is close to complete, and nearly 90% of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported their profits for the July-through-September quarter, according to FactSet. Results have been weak due in part to the slowing global economy, with earnings per share down 2.4% from a year earlier, but they haven’t been as bad as Wall Street had forecast.

European markets were mixed. Britain’s FTSE 100 index slipped 0.4%, France’s CAC 40 added 0.1% and Germany’s DAX lost 0.2%.

Benchmark crude oil fell 38 cents to settle at $56.86 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, fell 33 cents to $62.18 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.61 per gallon. Heating oil declined 1 cent to $1.91 per gallon. Natural gas fell 15 cents to $2.64 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold fell $5.80 to $1,455.50 per ounce, silver fell 2 cents to $16.76 per ounce and copper fell 2 cents to $2.66 per pound.

The dollar fell to 109.04 Japanese yen from 109.15 yen on Friday. The euro strengthened to $1.1034 from $1.1024.

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