US stocks closed slightly lower Wednesday as US retail sales dropped for the first time in months, and as trade tensions between US and China resurfaced this week, overshadowing upbeat earnings results.
China on Wednesday vowed to "take strong countermeasures" to defend its sovereignty after the House approved on Tuesday three bills showing US support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, a report by The Wall Street Journal said there are doubts on China's commitment to purchase more US agricultural products, which was part of the temporary trade deal made last week. Trump also said it is likely he won't sign a trade deal with China until he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the upcoming APEC Forum in Chile in November, according to media reports.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down fractionally, while the S&P 500 was down by 0.20%. The Nasdaq Composite Index was 0.30% lower. Energy stocks were the hardest hit among the S&P 500 sectors, losing over 1%, while consumer discretionary led the sectors with a 0.40% gain.
The emerging tensions between the two economic giants eclipsed the week's positive earnings results, as Factset data shows that among the S&P 500 index companies that reported earnings through Wednesday morning, 83% surpassed analyst expectations.
In economic news, retail sales in September fell 0.3% compared with the consensus estimate of a gain of 0.3%, according to Econoday. Excluding autos and gas, retail sales were unchanged compared with the consensus estimate of a gain of 0.3% according to Econoday. Meanwhile, the National Association of Homebuilders' housing market index came in better-than-expected at 71, beating the 68 consensus, according to Econoday.
In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures rose 1% to $53.32 per barrel. Natural gas was down 2.2% to $2.29 per 1 million BTU. Gold futures were up 0.7% to $1,493.80 an ounce, while silver was up 0.2% to $17.41 an ounce.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 0.7% to $11.14 while the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 2% to $19.64. Among precious-metal funds, the Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 2% to $26.71, while SPDR Gold Shares were up 0.6% to $140.41. The iShares Silver Trust fell slightly to $16.26.
NYSE Composite Index was down 12.48 points (-0.10%) to 12,993.56
Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 22.82 points (-0.08%) to 27,001.98
S&P 500 was down 5.99 points (-0.20%) to 2,989.69
Nasdaq Composite Index was down 24.52 points (-0.30%) to 8,124.18
FTSE 100 was down 43.69 points (-0.61%) to 7,167.95
DAX was up 40.32 points (+0.32%) to 12,670.11
CAC 40 was down 5.15 points (-0.09%) to 5,696.90
Nikkei 225 was up 265.71 points (+1.2%) to 22,472.92
Hang Seng Index was up 160.35 points (+0.61%) to 26,664.28
Shanghai China Composite Index was down 12.33 points (-0.41%) to 2,978.71
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