Wall Street flat as trade deal optimism wanes, earnings in focus
By Arjun Panchadar and Sagarika Jaisinghani
Oct 14 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks stalled on Monday after three straight sessions of gains as a bare-bones trade deal with China announced on Friday dampened sentiment and triggered a 2% drop in oil prices, ahead of the start of third-quarter earnings season.
Oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp XOM.N and Chevron Corp CVX.N were among the biggest drags on the S&P 500 index, as oil prices gave up last week's gains on growing concerns that the partial trade deal could take time to be sealed. O/R
The S&P 500 and Dow Jones indexes ended Friday with their first weekly gain in a month after Washington signaled the two sides had taken a major step in easing the tit-for-tat measures that have hammered global growth this year.
But the absence of details left investors feeling less upbeat about what had really been achieved.
"Investors are trying to wrap their head around this 'non deal'," said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.
"If (the market) was really skeptical, it would be selling off a lot harder. But it's not because there are some good points to it: that they are still talking and potentially reaching a deal."
Shares of companies with a sizeable exposure to China, including Nvidia Corp NVDA.O, Advanced Micro Devices Inc AMD.O and Micron Technology Inc MU.O, slipped after gaining on Friday. The Philadelphia Semiconductor index .SOX fell 0.3%.
Investors will now turn to the third-quarter earnings season to gauge the impact of the trade conflict and a sluggish domestic economy on corporate America.
The reporting season kicks off on Tuesday, with the big U.S. banks expected to report a 1.2% decline in earnings due to falling interest rates, a raft of unsuccessful stock market floatations and trade tensions.
Overall, analysts are forecasting a 3.2% decline in profit for S&P 500 companies for the quarter from a year earlier, based on IBES data from Refinitiv.
At 11:28 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 15.16 points, or 0.06%, at 26,831.75, while the S&P 500 .SPX was down 1.79 points, or 0.06%, at 2,968.48. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 0.73 points, or 0.01%, at 8,057.77.
Nike Inc NKE.N was among the top Dow gainers after Bank of America Merrill Lynch upgraded the stock to "neutral" from "underperform".
Shares of U.S. construction and engineering company AECOM ACM.N rose 5.5% after it agreed to sell its management services unit for about $2.4 billion.
Fastenal Co FAST.O was down 1.4% after two brokerages downgraded the stock. The company had logged its best day in three decades on Friday after reporting strong results.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.56-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.56-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded two new 52-week highs and three new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 14 new highs and 77 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Medha Singh and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)
((Sagarika.Jaisinghani@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780, outside U.S. +91 80 6749 0613))