Stocks Edge Lower Amid Trade Deal Prospects

Stocks push past latest trade-war confusion to more records

Stocks push past latest trade-war confusion to more records

Stocks wobbled between small gains and losses throughout the day amid conflicting signals about the progress being made by United States and Chinese negotiators. Those cheers were muffled late Thursday over reports that USA officials are still deliberating the extent of easing tariffs if talks progress.

Stocks and bond yields dipped immediately after Trump told reporters at the White House, "I haven't agreed to anything".

By the end of trading, the S&P 500 was up 8.40 points, or 0.3%, at 3,085.18.

For the week, the S&P 500 rose 0.8%, posting a fifth straight week of gains, while the Nasdaq gained 1.1%, closing out its sixth straight week of gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 182.24, or 0.7%, to 27,674.80 and also set a record. The Nasdaq composite finished just shy of its all-time high after rising 23.89, or 0.3%, to 8,434.52.

Major indexes are holding close Friday to the record highs they set a day earlier.

"The general tone of the market will continue to be very cautiously optimistic", said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade.

Even with the conflicting signals on the trade war, momentum has seemed to be in the direction of a stopgap deal. Wall Street hopes only that it will keep the trade war from worsening: Another round of tariffs on Chinese goods is scheduled to begin next month.

Investors are not expecting a grand bargain anytime soon that solves all the problems between the world's two largest economies. The U.S. job market remains strong, and the Federal Reserve has cut interest rates three times since the summer to bolster the economy. Earnings for big companies, meanwhile, weren't as bad in the summer as Wall Street had feared.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.93%.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.89% from 1.81% late Wednesday.

The 10-year Treasury yield climbed to 1.94 percent, from 1.92 percent late on Thursday and a low of 1.5 percent last month.

Not only are yields on the rise, so is the gap between short and long-term Treasuries.

That leaves the USA trade war as the wildcard for the global economy, and markets are trading on every whiff of movement about it as a result.

Confidence might have gotten so high that stock prices have become too expensive, Villere & Co portfolio manager George Young said.

He sees so few stocks attractively priced that he now has 15 percent of his clients' money at mutual funds and separately managed account sitting in cash. In June, when worries about the economy and trade war were higher, Young had only 5 percent in cash given the many bargains available.

"I wouldn't say I'm negative on the market, but when stocks get ahead of themselves, it's incumbent upon me to balance against the long term", Young said.

Chipmaker Qualcomm, which reported results late Wednesday, rose 7.2% after beating analyst's profit forecasts. The company also said it received a positive response from a test of its planned streaming service, Disney Plus.

Benchmark crude oil rose 9 cents to settle at $57.24 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the worldwide standard, rose 22 cents to $62.51 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $1.64 per gallon.

In overseas markets, Germany's DAX returned 0.8%, France's CAC 40 rose 0.4% and the FTSE 100 in London added 0.1%. Heating oil was unchanged at $1.92 per gallon. ConocoPhillips fell 2.1% and Principal Financial lost 1.1%. The euro weakened to $1.1048 from $1.1069.

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