Wall Street treads water as tariff deadline nears

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S.© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S.

By Shreyashi Sanyal and Arjun Panchadar

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks gave up gains to trade nearly flat in a choppy session on Tuesday as investors focussed on trade-related headlines ahead of a new round of tariffs on Chinese goods.

The three main indexes were nudged higher earlier in the day after the Wall Street Journal reported that the United States and China were planning to delay tariffs and that officials from both sides hinted at extending their trade talks.

“I think that both sides are going to find a way to delay the imposition of new tariffs on Dec. 15,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

“We just don’t know if that is true right now that is why the market has been acting skittishly. I think that we are still waiting on news.”

Apple Inc (O:), shares of which are often sensitive to news on trade, gained 1%. The broader S&P 500 technology sector () rose 0.3%.

The communication services sector () slipped, weighed down by Netflix Inc’s (O:) 1.4% fall after Needham downgraded the company’s shares to “underperform”.

The Federal Open Market Committee’s two-day policy meeting kicks off on Tuesday and investors are expecting updates from the central bank on its 2020 economic outlook.

The S&P 500 is up 25% so far this year, boosted by the Federal Reserve’s interest rate cuts and some relief over corporate profits.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average () was up 0.11 points, or 0.00%, at 27,909.71, the S&P 500 () was up 1.34 points, or 0.04%, at 3,137.30 and the Nasdaq Composite () was up 12.16 points, or 0.14%, at 8,633.99.

On other trade-related development, Canada, Mexico and the United States agreed to a fresh overhaul of their quarter-century-old regional trade pact after negotiators approved changes to a preliminary deal struck last year and officials will sign the new agreement on Tuesday.

Shares in Autozone Inc (N:) jumped 7% after the auto parts retailer beat quarterly estimates for profit. Shares of Advance Auto Parts (N:) and O’Reilly Automotive (O:) also rose.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.03-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.13-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 21 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 60 new highs and 52 new lows.

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