Stocks Static on U.S.-China Trade Uncertainty

Stocks closed Wednesday’s session little changed, struggling to sustain the recent rally that drove the market to record highs, as traders worried about U.S.-China trade discussions.

The Dow Jones Industrials faded from Tuesday’s all-time record, albeit by only 0.07 points, to 27,492.56

The S&P 500 regained 2.16 points to 3,076.78

The NASDAQ fell 24.05 points, to 8,410.63, as big tech including Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook all underperformed.

Even so, the Dow’s year-to-date gain now stands at nearly 18% after rallying 3.3% in the past month. The S&P 500 is up more than 22% this year after surging 4% in the past month.

Stocks hit their session lows after reports said President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping likely won’t meet to sign a trade deal until December.

The meeting between Trump and Xi could be delayed as the two sides still need to decide on the terms and a venue. Trump is scheduled to be in London for a gathering of NATO leaders on Dec. 3 - 4, and a potential signing could happen nearby before or after that visit.

HP surged more than 6% on Wednesday following a report that said Xerox has made a cash-and-stock offer for the personal-computer and printer maker. CVS Health rose 5.3% on stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings.

Qualcomm, Expedia, TripAdvisor, Fox Corp, and Papa John’s are among those due to report after the bell.

Corporate profits have been largely solid this earnings season as 75% of S&P 500 companies to report thus far have topped analysts’ expectations.

Stocks were also boosted by better-than-expected economic data. A gauge for U.S. services activities topped expectations for October, while the labour market remains solid as jobs creation easily beat estimate last month.

However, productivity south of the border dropped by the most since the fourth quarter of 2015 during the third quarter, the U.S. Labor Department said on Wednesday.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury eased up, lowering yields to 1.82% from Tuesday’s 1.85%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices lost 70 cents to $56.34 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices gained nine dollars to $1,492.70 U.S. an ounce.