Wall Street edges higher as industrial stocks attempt recovery

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes edged higher on Thursday as industrial stocks gained following three days of losses due to fears of trade war between China and the United States.

Traders work on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The S&P industrial index .SPLRCI was up 0.15 percent, helped by gains in Caterpillar (CAT.N) and General Electric (GE.N). Shares of planemaker Boeing (BA.N) pared early losses to trade down 0.8 percent.

The markets found support from economic data that showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week, pointing to strength in labor market.

A more than expected rise in U.S. import prices in February indicated a steady pick up in inflation.

At 10:09 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 0.37 percent to 24,848.55. The S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.12 percent to 2,752.75 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down just 0.03 percent at 7,494.93.

The indexes fell on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump sought to impose tariffs up to $60 billion on Chinese imports, while pressing for a cut in China’s trade surplus with the United States by $100 billion.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said history showed trade wars are in nobody’s interests, but that China would protect its legitimate rights if “something happens we don’t want to see”.

“The problem is this type of rhetoric creates uncertainties and cap the markets,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York. “We’re probably going to continue to slip in and out of the minus column for most of the day, we might be able to have a mid-session with upward bias.”

Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports as well as on solar panels and washing machines has already sparked threats of retaliation from some trade partners.

Shares in aircraft maker Boeing (BA.N) have shed 8.8 percent since March 1, when Trump announced his plans to impose tariffs.

The stock was down another 1 percent in morning trading.

Major industrial stocks have been under pressure from the protectionist policies, which are likely to firm up with Trump replacing free trade proponent Gary Cohn with conservative commentator Larry Kudlow to lead the National Economic Council.

Alibaba (BABA.N) jumped nearly 3 percent on report that the Chinese e-commerce giant was planning to list in China.

Shares of Dollar General (DG.N) rose 5.8 percent after the discount retailer’s quarterly same-store sales beat estimates, and those of Sears Holdings Corp (SHLD.O) gained 5 percent after the retailer reported smaller-than-expected drop in same-store sales.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN.O) rose 8.45 percent after the company’s experimental drug to treat patients with a rare blood disorder met the main goal in a late-stage study.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,459 to 1,030. On the Nasdaq, 1,238 issues rose and 1,113 fell.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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