Stocks end slightly lower amid trade jit­ters

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - FRONT PAGE - By Alex Veiga

In­dexes closed lower af­ter a day of choppy trad­ing, wip­ing out some of the mar­ket’s gains from a day ear­lier.

U.S. stock in­dexes closed slightly lower Thurs­day af­ter a day of mostly choppy trad­ing, wip­ing out some of the mar­ket’s gains from a day ear­lier.

Tech­nol­ogy stocks took some of the worst losses. Fast-food chains and other con­sumer-fo­cused com­pa­nies, util­i­ties and banks also de­clined, out­weigh­ing gains in en­ergy and in­dus­trial stocks. Small­com­pany stocks fared bet­ter than the rest of the mar­ket.

The in­dexes veered solidly into the red by late af­ter­noon ahead of a new round of trade talks be­tween the U.S. and China. The coun­tries have threat­ened tar­iffs on each other.

“Now that we’re mak­ing it out of earn­ings sea­son, geopo­lit­i­cal is go­ing to come back into the fore­front of what the mar­ket’s con­cerns are,” said Shawn Cruz, man­ager of trader strat­egy at TD Amer­i­trade. “And that may con­tinue to drive in­tra­day volatil­ity until we get more cer­tainty as far as what is ac­tu­ally go­ing to come out of these trade talks.”

The S&P 500 index slipped 2.33 points, or 0.1 per­cent, to 2,720.13. The Dow Jones in­dus­trial av­er­age lost 54.95 points, or 0.2 per­cent, to 24,713.98. The drop pulled the Dow into the red for the year. The Nasdaq com­pos­ite fell 15.82 points, or 0.2 per­cent, to 7,382.47.

The Rus­sell 2000 index of smaller-com­pany stocks bucked the down­ward trend, set­ting an all-time high for the sec­ond day in a row. The index picked up 8.92 points, or 0.6 per­cent, to 1,625.29.

Small-cap com­pa­nies tend to be more fo­cused on busi­ness in the U.S., rather than over­seas, which may make them more at­trac­tive to in­vestors wor­ried about a trade war or rising in­ter­est rates.

“The con­cern is on the geopo­lit­i­cal front, that’s why you’re see­ing the large-cap, the multi­na­tion­als, re­ally get­ting hit by this,” Cruz said.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion was sched­uled to re­sume talks in Wash­ing­ton with se­nior Chinese of­fi­cials seek­ing to ward off a trade war be­tween the world’s two big­gest economies. But while field­ing ques­tions from re­porters Thurs­day af­ter­noon, Trump sug­gested the talks may not end up averting a trade war with China: “Will that be suc­cess­ful? I tend to doubt it,” Trump said.

In­vestors took note of the re­marks and the mar­ket in­dexes moved lower af­ter spend­ing much of the day wa­ver­ing be­tween small gains and losses.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has proposed tar­iffs on up to $150 bil­lion in Chinese prod­ucts to pun­ish Bei­jing for forc­ing Amer­i­can com­pa­nies to turn over tech­nol­ogy in ex­change for ac­cess to the Chinese mar­ket. China has coun­tered by tar­get­ing $50 bil­lion in U.S. prod­ucts. Nei­ther coun­try has im­posed the tar­iffs.

The lat­est quar­terly re­sults and out­looks from sev­eral com­pa­nies also put in­vestors in a sell­ing mood.

J.C. Pen­ney sank 12.4 per­cent to $2.69 af­ter the strug­gling depart­ment store chain said it might take a loss in 2018 as it cut its an­nual fore­cast. Jack in the Box lost 8.3 per­cent to $83.79 af­ter the burger chain’s earn­ings fell short of an­a­lysts’ ex­pec­ta­tions.

Cisco Sys­tems led a slide in tech­nol­ogy stocks af­ter the seller of routers, switches and soft­ware’s lat­est quar­terly re­sults dis­ap­pointed traders. The stock slid 3.8 per­cent to $43.46.

RICHARD DREW — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Trader Ed­ward Mc­Carthy works on the floor of the New York Stock Ex­change, Thurs­day.

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