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Traders Remain Focused on Lingering Trade Concerns

By Investors Hub

The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a lower opening on Monday, with stocks likely to move back to the downside after closing higher over the two previous sessions.

Lingering trade concerns are likely to weigh on the markets as tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports to the U.S. and a matching $34 billion worth of U.S. exports to China are due to take effect on July 6th.

Potentially adding to the concerns, news website Axios obtained a leaked draft of bill ordered by President Donald Trump that would declare America?s abandonment of fundamental World Trade Organization rules.

The bill, known as the United States Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act, essentially provides Trump a license to raise U.S. tariffs at will, without congressional consent, Axios said.

?It would be the equivalent of walking away from the WTO and our commitments there without us actually notifying our withdrawal,? a source familiar with the bill told Axios.

However, the source noted Congress would never give the president the authority, and a White House spokeswoman told Axios the administration does not have actual legislation it is preparing to rollout.

A previous report from Axios said Trump has repeatedly told top White House officials he wants to withdraw the United States from the World Trade Organization.

Overall trading activity is likely to be somewhat subdued, however, with the upcoming July 4th holiday likely to keep some traders on the sidelines.

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Later this week, trading may be impacted by reaction to the Labor Department?s monthly jobs report and the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting.

After trading notably higher throughout much of the session, stocks pulled back sharply going into the close of trading on Friday. The major averages showed a notable decline but managed to end the day in positive territory.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq briefly dipped into negative territory but inched up 6.62 points or 0.1 percent to 7,510.30. The Dow edged up 55.36 points or 0.2 percent to 24,271.41, and the S&P 500 crept up 2.06 points or 0.1 percent to 2,718.37.

Despite moving higher over the past two days, the major averages all moved notably lower for the week. The Nasdaq tumbled by 2.4 percent, while the Dow and the S&P 500 both slumped by 1.3 percent.

The late-day pullback on Wall Street may have reflected lingering concerns about the global economic impact of recent trade disputes between the U.S. and other major economies.

Strength in the financial sector helped to drive the markets higher early in the day after most of the nation’s largest banks passed the Federal Reserve’s annual stress test.

Financial giants such as Wells Fargo (WFC), Citigroup (C), and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) have subsequently announced billions of dollars in stock buybacks and raised their quarterly dividends.

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Strength in the overseas markets also generated early buying interest on Wall Street despite the lingering trade concerns.

Asian stocks reversed early losses to end mostly higher after China eased restrictions on foreign investment in sectors including banking, automotive, heavy industry and agriculture amid scrutiny from its top trading partners.

The U.S. and the European Union have been complaining that Beijing limits foreign firms’ ability to enter the world’s second-largest economy.

News EU leaders have reached an agreement on migration, averting a political crisis in Germany, also contributed to strength in the European markets.

On the U.S. economic front, a report released by the Commerce Department showed personal income increased in line with economist estimates in the month of May, although the report also showed weaker than expected growth in personal spending.

The report said personal income climbed by 0.4 percent in May after edging up by a downwardly revised 0.2 percent in April.

Economists had expected income to rise by 0.4 percent compared to the 0.3 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said personal spending rose by 0.2 percent in May after climbing by a downwardly revised 0.5 percent in April.

Personal spending had been expected to increase by 0.4 percent compared to the 0.6 percent growth originally reported for the previous month.

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A separate report from the University of Michigan showed consumer sentiment improved by much less than initially estimated in the month of June.

The report said the consumer sentiment index for June was downwardly revised to 98.2 from the preliminary reading of 99.3.

The index for June is still slightly above the final May reading of 98.0, although economists had expected a much more modest downward revision to 99.2.

Surveys of Consumers chief economist Richard Curtin said the downward revision was largely due to concerns about the potential impact of tariffs on the domestic economy.

Despite the late-day pull back by the broader markets, gold stocks showed a significant move to the upside on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index up by 2.4 percent. The strength among gold stocks came amid an increase by the price of the precious metal.

Considerable strength also remained visible among biotechnology stocks, as reflected by the 1.9 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index. The index continued to recover after hitting its lowest intraday level in well over a month on Thursday.

Housing and oil stocks also ended the session notably higher, while most of the other major sectors showed more modest moves on the day.

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Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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