Stocks Close With Modest Losses Amid U.S.-China Trade Anxiety


Stocks closed modestly lower on Wall Street Thursday after a mostly listless day of trading handed the market its third straight drop.

Losses in technology stocks, companies that rely on consumer spending and other sectors outweighed gains elsewhere in the market.

Energy sector stocks were the biggest winners, benefiting from another pickup in crude oil prices. Health care and communication services companies also rose.

Investors have turned cautious this week amid concerns that the U.S. and China will fail to make a trade deal before the year is over.

The world’s largest economies have been negotiating a resolution to their trade war ahead of new tariffs set to hit key consumer goods on Dec. 15. Investors have been hoping for a deal before that happens, as the tariffs would increase prices on smartphones, laptops and many common household goods.

The S&P 500 index dropped 4.92 points, or 0.2%, to 3,103.54. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 54.80 points, or 0.2%, to 27,766.29.

The Nasdaq slid 20.52 points, or 0.2%, to 8,506.21. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks lost 7.65 points, or 0.5%, to 1,583.96.

Major stock indexes in Europe also finished lower.

The latest round of selling extended the losses for U.S. stocks this week. The benchmark S&P 500 index is on track to snap a six-week winning streak.

Optimism that Washington and Beijing were nearing a “phase one” trade deal helped pave the way for gains in the market in recent weeks, including a string of all-time highs for major stock indexes.

Technology stocks took heavy losses Thursday. Many chipmakers and companies that make hardware rely on China for sales and supply chains. Advanced Micro Devices slid 3.6% and Lam Research fell 3.7%.

Consumer product makers also fell broadly. Kraft Heinz dropped 2.7%.

Exxon Mobil rose 2.4%, part of a broad rally in energy stocks as the price of U.S. crude oil climbed 2.8%. Benchmark crude oil rose $1.57 to settle at $58.58 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, gained $1.57 to close at $63.97 a barrel.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.78% from 1.74% late Wednesday. The rise in bond yields, which drive up the interest rates banks charge for mortgages and other loans, helped boost financial sector stocks. Bank of America added 0.5%.

Tiffany jumped 2.6% following a report that LVMH would raise its bid for the company. TD Ameritrade soared 16.9% after a report that Charles Schwab was in talks to acquire it.

PayPal slipped 1.5% after saying it would buy Honey Science, which helps people find coupons and discounts while they shop online.

Retailers continued to report a mixed batch of earnings. Macy’s fell 2.3% after cutting its profit and sales forecast. Investors rewarded L Brands with a 10.1% gain after the company met Wall Street’s profit expectations.

In other commodities trading, wholesale gasoline rose 4 cents to $1.70 per gallon, heating oil climbed 5 cents to $1.94 per gallon and natural gas rose 1 cent to $2.57 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold fell $10.20 to $1,463.10 per ounce, silver fell 5 cents to $17.05 per ounce and copper fell 3 cents to $2.62 per pound.

The dollar rose to 108.66.

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