Stocks finished little changed Thursday, as investors digested economic updates and monitored the latest developments on the trade front. The most recent reports suggested that Washington and China are struggling to find middle ground on the size of agricultural purchases. Meanwhile, remarks earlier this morning from Chinese officials indicated the two countries are maintaining close communications, which helped fuel optimism that an accord can still be reached in the coming weeks. The Dow gained 28 points, while the S&P 500 added 0.2%. The Nasdaq Composite ticked up less than 0.1%.
Eight of 11 sectors ended the day in positive territory with Materials leading the advance. In earnings, Five Below rose 4.8% after the discount retailer beat Wall Street’s estimates in the third quarter. Restoration Hardware jumped 13.4% after topping consensus estimates for profit and revenue, and also raised its forward earnings guidance for 2020. Meanwhile, Nike added 2.2% following an analyst upgrade.
On the data front, initial jobless claims fell to 203,000 in the most recent week, the lowest level in seven months. Separate reports showed factory orders ticked up 0.3% and durable goods rose 0.5% in October. The trade deficit narrowed by 7.6% to $47.2 billion in October, the lowest since May 2018. Treasuries weakened, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year note increasing three basis points to 1.80%.
In commodities, WTI crude ended the day flat as investors await decisions from OPEC’s meeting on production cuts for 2020. COMEX gold advanced 0.1% to $1,474.90/ounce.