US stocks end mostly up despite bad data, China tensions

Wall Street stocks finished a volatile session mostly higher on Friday after newly announced US policies to punish China did not threaten a trade detente between Washington and Beijing. At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 25,383.11, down 0.1 percent.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.5 percent to 3,044.31, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 1.3 percent to 9,489.87. Trading was choppy throughout the session, with major indices sinking into negative territory as a mid-afternoon White House speech by President Donald Trump began.

Trump harshly criticized China’s handling of the coronavirus, blaming the country for the deaths of 100,000 Americans, and announcing new actions including an end to funding for the World Health Organization. He also ordered probes of Chinese companies listed on American financial markets.

But Trump made no mention of the “phase one” trade agreement with China that walked back earlier trade tariffs, nor did he threaten new levies on US imports from the country.

“When (Trump) first started talking, he sounded pretty hawkish, there was an initial knee-jerk selloff,” said analyst Patrick O’Hare. “When it became clear he wasn’t saying anything about tariffs, there was a snapback rally.”

Many analysts expect Trump to continue to rail against China in the months ahead as he faces a challenging path to re-election in light of COVID-19 and the resulting economic slowdown.

A US government survey showed a record 13.6 percent drop in personal consumption in April, while personal income jumped 10.5 percent due to the surge in government aid and unemployment payments under federal emergency spending measures.

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Meanwhile, consumer sentiment gained slightly from March, but remains at its lowest since December 2012, according to a University of Michigan survey. However, confidence in the economic outlook ahead dropped sharply.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank would roll outs its lending program for small businesses in the coming days as he reiterated the central bank’s plan to continue to take a muscular approach to supporting the US economy.

Among individual companies, Williams Sonoma surged 14.0 percent as it reported a surprise profit despite having all its stores shuttered for more than half the quarter, fueled by surging sales of cooking equipment with much of the US stuck at home under quarantine orders. fell 3.4 percent following a disappointing forecast as the software giant reported a drop in first-quarter profits.


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