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Stocks end slightly lower as traders shrug off trade talk

23 July 2018

Home furnishings chain At Home Group Inc (HOME.N) said it would make adjustments to its supply chain to mitigate the impact of the proposed tariffs on goods imported from China. The Shanghai Composite Index rebounded 2.1 per cent to 2,830.29.

Its decline provides "a significant offset to the loss in export competitiveness for Chinese exporters due to higher U.S. tariffs", Rajiv Biswas, chief Asia economist with IHS Markit, told AFP.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down less than 0.1 percent at 25,058.06.

"Since it has already imposed or promised higher tariffs on over $US50 billion of USA goods, it has limited room to raise tariffs further". The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 4.50 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,696.81. The Trump Administration announced a 2nd possible round targeting $200-B worth of goods on 10 July. Earlier this year, he invoked national security as a justification for taxing imported steel and aluminum.

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After Beijing offered this spring to buy more natural gas and farm goods from the U.S.to narrow the trade deficit, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the trade war was "on hold". "We will await a reduction in trade risks, as well as monitoring growth and valuations, for signs the time is right to increase exposure again". The Alliance of Auto Manufacturers rejected the levies on vehicle, truck and auto parts imports, saying the view was shared by over 2,200 comments it had received.

CNBC began broadcasting parts of the Trump interview Thursday, revealing also that he had broken with the presential practice of not commenting on the Federal Reserve's interest-rate decisions.

The dollar had reached that high after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell expressed confidence in the USA economy and affirmed expectations that the central bank was on track to keep hiking interest rates gradually.

"If there's a toss-up between raising and not raising (rates), you wonder what role these types of comments might possibly play", said Sameer Samana, a strategist for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

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The Fed has raised the benchmark lending rate twice this year after three increases in 2017 and two more rate hikes are expected this year as the central bank removes stimulus from the economy to keep a lid on inflation. Presidents historically do not comment on the Fed's policy as it could be viewed as influencing the bank's decisions, which are meant to be independent of political influence. His follow-up comments this afternoon have accelerated this decline as traders chose to take profits on their United States dollar long positions ahead of the weekend.

The pound has had a bruising week, closing near its lows against the euro, but it has managed to recover some of its losses against the United States dollar, as attention now shifts to what the Bank of England might do when it meets in just under two weeks at its next rate meeting.

China's Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai has refuted accusations by the Trump administration against China on trade, noting that only consultations based on mutual respect and trust will lead to a proper settlement of their dilemma. On Thursday, the contract settled at USD68.24 a barrel. Brent crude rose 16 cents to $73.23.

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Stocks end slightly lower as traders shrug off trade talk