Stocks finished lower Wednesday as lingering U.S.-China trade tensions pressured investor sentiment. The Dow fell 112 points, while the S&P 500 lost 0.4%, its largest decline in a month. The Nasdaq Composite was down 0.5%.
The latest reports indicated that a “phase one” accord may not be solidified this year, as another deadlock in negotiations seems probable at this time. President Trump threatened to hike tariffs further if a preliminary agreement is not reached, while China has continued to press for more extensive rollbacks to existing duties. U.S. political intervention has complicated matters, as the Senate passed a measure supporting Hong Kong anti-government protesters.
Seven of 11 S&P 500 sectors closed in negative territory with Communication Services and Industrials leading decliners. Energy shares bucked the downtrend amid a rebound in oil prices. WTI crude jumped 3.4% to $57.11/barrel, bouncing back from its worst day since September. In earnings, Target climbed 14.1% to a record high after its quarterly figures widely exceeded consensus expectations. The retailer saw its digital sales spike 31% during the quarter and subsequently raised its full-year guidance. Lowe’s advanced 3.9% following mostly positive results that included a bottom line beat and boost to its earnings forecast.
Treasuries advanced, with the yield on the 10-year note down five basis points to 1.73%, the lowest since the start of November. In central bank news, the minutes from the Fed’s latest meeting showed that most officials expected monetary policy would be well calibrated following the decis