U.S. stock-market indexes closed mostly lower on Wednesday as investors grappled with a fresh round of tariff clashes between the Trump administration and China and a batch of weak earnings from high-profile firms such as Walt Disney Co. and Snap Inc.
Equities have remained mostly buoyant over recent sessions, supported by strong corporate quarterly results and economic data that underlined a healthy economy in its ninth year of expansion.
How are main benchmarks performing?
The S&P 500 index SPX, -0.03% broke the four-day winning streak by closing fractionally lower at 2,857.70, holding less than 0.5% from its all-time high hit on Jan. 26.
Modest gains in technology, financials and health-care sectors were offset by declines in consumer staples, energy and industrials.
The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.06% advanced 4.66 points, or less than 0.1%, to 7,888.33, extending its series of wins to seven, its longest stretch of uninterrupted gains since March 12. Recent advances took the benchmark within about 50 points of it record close set on July 25.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.18% declined 45.16 points, or 0.2%, to 25,583.75.
What’s driving the market?
Investors have wrestled with trade worries over the past several weeks, but tensions between Washington and Beijing have mostly taken a back seat to a bevy of corporate results that have helped to bolster Wall Street’s bull case, underpinning appetite for assets perceived as risky, like stocks.
Thus far, with more than 80% of corporations reporting quarterly results, S&P 500 components have produced earnings growth of 24% and sales gains of 9.8%, according to FactSet data. Those earnings have helped to bolster the belief that a steady U.S. economic expansion will continue, despite heightened tariff skirmishes with China.
On Tuesday, the U.S. completed a list of $16 billion in Chinese imports that will be subject to 25% tariffs. That brings duties on Chinese imports, which are set to take effect Aug. 23, to $50 billion. And U.S. officials have said they are considering duties on $200 billion more.
Beijing officials have said they would respond by imposing retaliatory tariffs on up to $110 billion of U.S. goods.
Tesla Inc.’s TSLA, -2.43% CEO Elon Muck delivered an afternoon jolt to the broader markets on Tuesday after the outspoken entrepreneur said he was considering taking the multibillion-dollar, electric-car maker private, which drove its shares higher after being halted for much of the afternoon.
Read: 6 factors to watch as the bull market pushes itself toward an endurance record
What are market participants saying?
“Markets are heading into one of the slowest trading periods and it’s not surprising to see small moves in either direction in the absence of big news,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist, at Prudential Financial.
“With the earnings season almost over, investors will continue to react to trade-related headlines, which may take another full month before we get some news in mid-September,” Krosby said.
What economic data are expected?
No major U.S. economic releases are slated for Wednesday. Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin said solid growth, low unemployment and inflation around a 2% annual rate “calls for” moving interest rates back to normal levels.
Check out: MarketWatch’s Economic Calendar
Which stocks are in focus?
Tesla share fell 2.4%, a day after soaring 11% to close at $379.57 on Tuesday. Musk said he is considering taking the car maker private at $420 a share and even indicated that he had financing lined up, although some Tesla watchers are questioning the veracity of that claim.
Snap Inc. SNAP, -6.78% stock fell 6.8% after the company issued quarterly guidance for the first time as well as reported a user decline.
Salesforce.com Inc. CRM, +0.51% promoted Chief Operating Officer Keith Block to co-chief executive alongside founder Marc Benioff, the company announced in a surprise move Tuesday night. Shares ended 0.5% higher.
Walt Disney Co. shares DIS, -2.21% declined by 2.2% after the company released a disappointing earnings report on Tuesday.
Shares of Mylan NV MYL, +1.79% reversed an earlier 7% drop to end 1.8% higher. The pharmaceutical company reported earnings results that came in below expectations but said it was evaluating strategic alternatives.
How are other markets performing?
The Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, -1.27% fell 1.3% and the Shenzhen A Share index 399106, -1.90% dropped 1.9% as the trade battle with the U.S. intensified, coming a day after those benchmarks finished with sharp gains.
The U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate futures CLU8, -3.47% finished the session off $2.23, or 3.2%, at $66.94 a barrel, their lowest level in nearly 7 weeks.
Gold futures GCZ8, +0.28% rose 0.2% to settle at $1,221 an ounce, while the U.S. Dollar Index DXY, -0.10% edged down by 0.1%.
The Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, -0.20% closed 0.2% lower.
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