Stocks finished lower Thursday as political uncertainties in Washington D.C. weighed on investor sentiment. The Dow slipped 79 points, while the S&P 500 declined 0.2%. The Nasdaq Composite lost 0.6%.
Trade news remained in focus after China’s Commerce Ministry suggest its domestic companies could agree to purchase “sizable amounts” of U.S. agricultural goods ahead of in-person talks next month. However, a separate update hinted White House officials are unlikely to extend the temporary waivers that allowed U.S. tech companies to supply components to Huawei. On the data front, the final update on second quarter GDP came in unrevised at a 2.0% annualized pace. A preliminary August reading on wholesale inventories ticked up 0.4% from the prior month’s downwardly revised figure of 0.1%. Treasuries strengthened, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year note off three basis points to 1.70%.
Six of 11 S&P 500 sectors finished in negative territory with Energy stocks pacing the decline. Communication Services shares also underperformed as Facebook slipped 1.5% amid reports the Justice Department will open an anti-trust investigation into the social media giant. The perceived “defensive” Utilities, Real Estate, and Consumer Staples groups outperformed and helped offset the broader market weakness. In corporate news, Beyond Meat jumped 11.6% after McDonald’s revealed plans to test the plant-based burgers at 28 restaurants in Canada.
In commodities, WTI crude was essentially unchanged at $56.51/barrel. COMEX gold declined 0.1% to $1,503.50/ounce. The U.S. dollar index climbed 0.2%, following yesterday’s rally, which saw the greenback post its biggest one-day jump since March.