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Renewed Trade Concerns May Lead to Pullback on Wall Street

By Investors Hub

The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a lower opening on Monday, with stocks likely to give back ground after moving notably higher last week.

Lingering trade concerns may weigh on the markets amid reports President Donald Trump intends to proceed with plans to impose tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods as early as today.

A report from the Wall Street Journal said the new tariffs would bet set at 10 percent, lower than the 25 percent previously floated by the administration.

The threat of new tariffs could still lead China to decline an offer to hold high-level trade talks, as the country is not prepared to negotiate with a ?gun pointed to its head,? the Journal noted.

In a post on Twitter this morning, Trump claimed tariffs have put the U.S. in a very strong bargaining position and called subsequent cost increases ?almost unnoticeable.?

China has pledged to retaliate to any new tariffs imposed by the U.S., with reports suggesting the communist country could go beyond raising tariffs on U.S. imports and restrict exports of goods critical to U.S. manufacturing.

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Stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Friday before ending the day little changed. The major averages finished the session on opposite sides of the unchanged line following the gains posted on Thursday.

While the Nasdaq edged down 3.67 points or 0.1 percent to 8,010.04, the Dow inched up 8.68 points or less than a tenth of a percent to a seven-month closing high of 26,154.67 and the S&P 500 crept up 0.80 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 2,904.98.

Despite the lackluster close on the day, the major averages all moved higher for the week. The Dow climbed by 0.9 percent, the Nasdaq surged up by 1.4 percent and the S&P 500 jumped by 1.2 percent.

The roughly flat close on Wall Street came after a report from Bloomberg said Trump has instructed aides to proceed with plans to impose tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg said Trump held a meeting on Thursday to discuss the tariffs with top trade advisers, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

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The latest news came on the heels of reports earlier this week indicting the U.S. has proposed holding a new round of trade talks with China in the near future.

Traders were also digesting a slew of U.S. economic data, including a report showing retail sales increased by much less than expected in August.

The Commerce Department said retail sales inched up by 0.1 percent in August after climbing by an upwardly revised 0.7 percent in July.

Economists had expected retail sales to rise by 0.4 percent compared to the 0.5 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

Excluding the decrease in auto sales, retail sales rose by 0.3 percent in August after jumping by an upwardly revised 0.9 percent in July.

Ex-auto sales had been expected to climb by 0.5 percent compared to the 0.6 percent growth originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, a separate report from the University of Michigan showed a much bigger than expected improvement in consumer sentiment in September.

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The report said the consumer sentiment index jumped to 100.8 in September from 96.2 in August. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 96.6.

The Federal Reserve also released a report showing industrial production rose by slightly more than expected in the month of August.

The Fed said industrial production climbed by 0.4 percent in August, matching the upwardly revised increase in July.

Economists had expected production to rise by 0.3 percent compared to the 0.1 percent uptick originally reported for the previous month.

Most of the major sectors ended the day showing only modest moves, although considerable strength was visible among steel stocks. Reflecting the strength in the steel sector, the NYSE Arca Steel Index advanced by 1.5 percent.

Brokerage stocks also turned in a strong performance on the day, resulting in a 1.3 percent gain by the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index. The index climbed further off the seven-month closing low set on Wednesday.

Semiconductor and transportation stocks also showed notable moves to the upside, while tobacco stocks extended the pullback seen in the previous session.

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Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

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