Stocks finished mixed on Tuesday. The major averages drifted from record levels after a report suggested that existing U.S. tariffs on $360 billion of Chinese imports would likely remain intact until after the November presidential election. The headline came despite tomorrow’s expected signing of the “phase one” trade deal between Washington and Beijing. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite each lost 0.2%, though both benchmark indexes notched new intraday highs for the fifth consecutive day. The Dow added 32 points, easing from the 29,000 level that had been reclaimed earlier in the session.
Investors also focused on fourth-quarter corporate earnings reports from some of Wall Street’s biggest banks. JP Morgan advanced 1.2% after its annual profit reached a record $36.4 billion. Citigroup was up 1.6% following its top and bottom line beat. Both banks experienced a sharp rebound in fixed income trading last quarter. Elsewhere, Delta Air Lines climbed 3.3% after posting positive results that were attributed to strong travel demand and lower fuel costs. In other corporate news, Visa rose slightly after announcing plans to acquire private technology start-up Plaid for $5.3 billion.
Treasuries strengthened following a weaker-than-expected inflation update. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note was down three basis points to 1.81%. A data release revealed consumer prices increased 0.2% in December, slightly below the prior 0.3% uptick. Separately, a report from the NFIB showed small business optimism declined more than anticipated in December. In commodities, WTI crude finished 0.3% higher at $58.23/barrel, snapping a five-day stretch of losses.