Market Snapshot: Stocks amble higher as bulls look to extend winning streak

Market Snapshot: Stocks amble higher as bulls look to extend winning streak

18 Dec    Finance News

U.S. stocks were slightly higher Wednesday as investors hoped to keep a five-day winning streak going in the wake of a preliminary U.S.-China trade deal and fading worries over the global economic outlook.

The likely impeachment of President Trump by the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington later Wednesday held little geopolitical risk for investors, analysts noted.

What are major indexes doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.06%   was about 26 points, 0.1%, higher, near 28,293, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.01%   rose about 1 point, less than 0.1%, to touch 3,194. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.09%   was up about 4 points, trading near 8,827.

The S&P 500 hit a new intraday record high at 3,198.34 before giving back early gains Wednesday.

Major indexes scored their fifth straight gain Tuesday, with all three logging the latest in a series of record finishes, albeit after modest gains. The Dow on Tuesday rose 31.27 points, or 0.1%, to end at 28,267.16, while the S&P 500 eked out a gain of 1.07 points, or less than 0.1%, to finish at 3,192.52. The Nasdaq Composite closed at 8823.36 after a gain of 9.13 points, or 0.1%.

What’s driving the market?

The U.S. – China trade deal announced last Friday contiunes to provide support for equities as it includes a partial roll back on some existing tariffs on Chinese imports and the scrapping of plans for additional levies ahead of a Dec. 15 deadline. While it could benefit American farmers there is skepticism over the targets set by U.S. negotiators.

“In the absence of fresh details on the terms of the deal or when it is expected to be signed, there was some nervousness in the markets,” said Raffi Boyadjian, senior investment analyst at XM, in a note. “However, even without any new drivers, the injection of positive sentiment from the announcement of the deal is likely to be enough to last till the end of the year as trading winds down during the Christmas and New Year period.”

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In an interview with Fox Business on Tuesday, Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, also suggested the Trump administration was ready to escalate its trade confrontation with the EU, potentially through new tariffs, after sealing a truce with China and enacting the USMCA agreement with Canada and Mexico to replace Nafta.

Meanwhile, investors appeared less gloomy over global economic prospects. A gauge of German business sentiment, the Ifo business-climate index, came in at a stronger-than-expected 96.3 points Wednesday morning, rising from an upwardly revised 95.1 in November and topping forecasts for a reading of 95.5.

Investors so far remain largely unfazed by impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump led by House Democrats. The House is widely expected to vote in favor of two articles of impeachment against the president Wednesday, setting the stage for a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, which is viewed as likely to acquit Trump.

Read: Here’s what’s happening next in Democrats’ effort to impeach President Trump

“Chalk up one more reason why US equity markets have the wind in their sails just now,” said Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research. “The odds of a distracting political contretemps in 2020 are diminishing. The 2020 Presidential race, at least by current measures, is shaping up to be more about personalities (Trump vs. Biden) than a vote on US economic norms. That said, there’s plenty of time for things to change. But that’s where things are today.”

Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans is due to deliver remarks in Indiana at 12:40 p.m. Eastern. Evans, who was a voting member of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee in 2019, becomes an alternative member next year.

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Which companies are in focus?

FedEx Corp. FDX, -9.22%  shares slumped 9% after it reported fiscal second-quarter earnings and an outlook that fell short of Wall Street forecasts . The stock took a beating Tuesday after the Wall Street Journal reported that Inc AMZN, +0.08%  . had blocked third-party vendors from using FedEx Ground shipping for Prime Deliveries.

Shares of General Mills Inc. GIS, +1.53%  ticked up after the consumer foods company reported a fiscal second-quarter profit that topped expectations, though revenue came up a bit short of forecasts.

Shares of Nio NIO, -0.39%   dipped in pre-market trading after a 15% run-up over the past few days.

Boeing BA, +1.47%  remains on watch after its decision to halt production of its 737 Max jets on Monday fanned concerns about the U.S. economy, although the stock itself stabilized.

The boards of Peugeot maker PSA Group PUGOY, +1.21%   and rival Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FCAU, -1.24%   late Tuesday backed a binding merger agreement that includes sweeteners to make the trans-Atlantic tie-up more attractive to U.S. regulators.

Results are due after the closing bell from chip maker Micron Technology Inc. MU, +0.01%  , which rose Tuesday to a more-than-one-year high on signs of improvement for the industry.

What are other markets doing?

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, +1.31%   rose 1 basis point to 1.90%.

The price of crude oil drifted down after four straight sessions of higher prices. West Texas Intermediate crude CL00, -0.84%   was 50 cents, 0.8%, lower on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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The price of an ounce of gold for February delivery GCG20, -0.09%    fell $3.00, or 0.3%, to $1,477.60.

The U.S. dollar DXY, +0.18%   rose 15 cents, 0.2%, against a basket of its peers.

In Europe, the STOXX Europe 600 SXXP, +0.04%   rose 0.1%. The U.K. FTSE 100 UKX, +0.30%    was about 6 points, 0.1%, higher.

In Asia overnight, the China CSI 300 000300, -0.22%  was little changed at 4,032, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 40.50 points, 0.2%, and Japan’s Nikkei NIK, -0.55%    tumbled 131.69 points, 0.6%.

Related: Here’s what may drive stocks even higher (hint: not the trade war or the Fed)

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