The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, January 14, 2020 4:30 pm

Stocks cling to tiny gains as investors parse trade signals

ALEX VEIGA | Associated Press


Stocks struggled to hold on to meager gains on Wall Street Tuesday as investors parsed the latest indications on trade relations between the U.S. and China as well as the first wave of quarterly earnings reports from big companies. Wells Fargo dropped but JPMorgan Chase rose. Traders were spooked by a report that U.S. tariffs would remain in place on Chinese goods even after a preliminary deal is signed Wednesday. The S&P 500 fell 4 points, or 0.2%, to 3,283. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 32 points, or 0.1%, to 28,939. The Nasdaq fell 22 points, or 0.2%, to 9,251. Small-company stocks rose.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Stocks rose on Wall Street in afternoon trading Tuesday as investors weighed earnings reports from several big banks and other companies.

Major banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, reported surprisingly good earnings, though Wells Fargo disappointed investors. The financial sector held up better than most.

Health care and industrial stocks also notched gains, outweighing losses in real estate, energy and other sectors.

Traders favored smaller company stocks, sending the Russell 2000 index solidly above the broader market S&P 500 index.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 1.82% from 1.84% late Monday.

The market's latest gains followed a record-setting rally on Monday fueled by optimism that a preliminary trade agreement between the U.S. and China due to be signed Wednesday in Washington will be a step toward ending the dispute threatening global economic growth.

The world’s largest economies have already taken measures to tone down their conflict. The U.S., notably, has dropped its designation of China as a currency manipulator in advance of the signing.

Major U.S. indexes pulled back in afternoon trading Tuesday following a published report that U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods would stay in place until after this year's election, despite the deal.

Investors will continue to keep an eye on corporate earnings reports the next few weeks. Wall Street expects corporate profits to slide by 2% during the fourth quarter, which would mark the first time earnings for the S&P 500 would fall four quarters in a row since the period ending in mid-2016, according to FactSet.

Companies typically outperform forecasts and temper expectations for sharp declines by the time the bulk of financial reporting is done.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index was little chanted as of 1:54 p.m. Eastern time. It was up as much as 0.2% earlier. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 64 points, or 0.2%, to 28,971. The Nasdaq slipped 0.1%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks climbed 0.5%. Asian markets were mixed and markets in Europe climbed.

TRADING UP: JPMorgan Chase rose 1.9% after the banking giant reported a surge in profits because of a blowout quarter from its trading desks. The earnings handily beat analysts’ forecasts. Citigroup climbed 2.7% after reporting a similar jump in profits because of its trading operations.

Wells Fargo did not fare as well. The bank's stock slumped 4.1% as its profit and revenue dropped because of hefty costs and lower interest rates. Wells Fargo is is still under growth restrictions by regulators after years of missteps, beginning in 2016 with the uncovering of millions of fake checking accounts its employees opened to meet sales quotas.

TAKEOFF: Delta Air Lines rose 3.7% after the company increased its fourth-quarter profit to $1.1 billion by adding more flights over the holiday period and packing them even more full of passengers. The results beat Wall Street’s forecasts. Delta's solid report helped lift some of its rivals. United Airlines rose 1.8% and American Airlines gained 1.2%.

WEAK OUTLOOK: Boston Scientific fell 6.2% after giving Wall Street a weak fourth-quarter sales update.

NOT PLAYING: Shares in GameStop skidded 8.5% after the video game retail chain reported holiday sales that fell below expectations, partly due to lower demand for software and hardware. The company also said it expects challenges to continue into this year.


AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise contributed.

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