Stocks were mixed on Thursday, as investors assessed positive economic data against a backdrop of recessionary fears. The Dow gained 99 points, rebounding modestly from its worst session of the year. The S&P 500 rose 0.3%, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.1%.
A report showed U.S. retail sales advanced 0.7% in July, the largest uptick since March and the fifth-straight monthly gain. Separately, the Empire State Manufacturing Survey and the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook both indicated continued expansion in August. Gains in the equity market was capped however as Treasuries extended their recent rally. The yield on the 10-year note fell eight basis points to 1.50%. Notably, the yield on the two-year note remained just below this point at 1.47%, after this portion of the yield curve briefly inverted for the first time since 2007 on Wednesday.
Investors also assessed mixed trade headlines. Overnight, Beijing vowed to retaliate against the most recent tariffs proposed by Washington. In a later statement, a Chinese foreign ministry representative struck a more conciliatory tone, suggesting hopes that the U.S. can meet China halfway in negotiating a trade deal.
Six of 11 S&P 500 sectors ended in positive territory. The Consumer Staples group paced the gains with Walmart climbing 6.1% after lifting its full-year forecast and delivering a top and bottom line beat. Energy stocks lagged, as WTI crude slid 1.4% to $54.48/barrel. The Technology sector also missed out on the gains, with Cisco Systems dropping 8.6% on disappointing forward guidance, citing pressure from lingering trade tensions.