U.S. Stocks Manage To Finish Lackluster Session At Record Closing Highs

(RTTNews) - Stocks turned in a lackluster performance for much of the trading session on Friday but managed to end the day mostly higher. With the gains on the day, the major averages all finished the session at new record closing highs.

The major averages moved to the upside going into the close to end the day at their highs of the session. The Dow inched up 6.44 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 27,681.24, the Nasdaq climbed 40.80 points or 0.5 percent to 8,475.31 and the S&P 500 rose 7.90 points or 0.3 percent to 3,093.08.

For the week, the Dow and the Nasdaq jumped by 1.2 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively, while the S&P 500 advanced by 0.9 percent.

The choppy trading seen for most of the day came as traders digested conflicting information regarding negotiations of a U.S.-China trade deal.

Comments from a Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman indicating the U.S. and China had agreed to roll back existing tariffs as part of a phase one trade deal contributed to strength in the markets on Thursday.

However, President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday that he has not agreed to lift the tariffs on China.

The comments from Trump came after a report from Reuters said the idea of rolling back tariffs faces fierce internal opposition from the president's advisers.

Multiple sources familiar with the talks told Reuters the idea of a tariff rollback was not part of the original October "handshake" deal between Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

Citing current and former administration officials, Reuters said there is a divide within the administration over whether rolling back tariffs will give away U.S. leverage in the negotiations.

The latest reports have sparked renewed uncertainty about what type of trade deal Trump will ultimately be willing to accept.

Trump has repeatedly criticized past administrations for being too weak on China, but he would also like a big political victory ahead of next year's presidential election.

Meanwhile, the University of Michigan released a report showing a slight improvement in U.S. consumer sentiment in the month of November.

The report said the consumer sentiment index inched up to 95.7 in November after rising to 95.5 in October. Economists had expected to index to tick up to 95.9.

"The early November reading on consumer sentiment was nearly identical to last month's and the average 2019 level (95.6)," said Surveys of Consumers chief economist Richard Curtin.

He added, "Consumers did voice a slightly more positive outlook for the economy, which was offset by a slightly less favorable outlook for their own personal finances."

Curtin said one-in-four consumers spontaneously made negative references to tariffs but noted references to the impact of Trump's impeachment on economic prospects were virtually non-existent.

Sector News

Networking stocks showed a substantial move to the upside on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Networking Index up by 3.9 percent to a three-month closing high.

Within the networking sector, Ubiquiti (UI) and Viasat (VSAT) posted standout gains after reporting better than expected quarterly results.

Significant strength also emerged among biotechnology stocks, as reflected by the 2.7 percent jump the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index. The index ended the session at its best closing level in well over two months.

Tobacco, natural gas, and pharmaceutical stocks also saw notable strength on the day, while steel stocks moved to the downside.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.3 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slid by 0.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the downside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index closed just below the unchanged line, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.5 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries showed a lack of direction over the course of the session before closing roughly flat. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, inched up by less than a basis point to 1.933 percent.

Looking Ahead

Reports on consumer and producer price inflation, retail sales and industrial production may attract some attention next week, although traders are likely to keep a closer eye on developments on the trade front.

On the earnings front, Walmart (WMT), Cisco Systems (CSCO), Viacom (VIAB), Nvidia (NVDA), and J.C. Penney (JCP) are among the companies due to report their quarterly results next week.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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