Trade Concerns, OPEC Uncertainty May Weigh on US Stocks

June 21, 2018
US Stocks report

By Investors Hub

The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a lower opening on Thursday, with stocks likely to move to the downside following the mixed performance seen in the previous session.

Lingering concerns about the trade dispute between the U.S. and China may weigh on the markets along with uncertainty the outcome of this week?s OPEC meeting.

Saudi Arabia and Russia are reportedly pushing for an increase in oil production, with OPEC expected to announce its decision on output on Friday.

After an initial move to the upside, stocks turned in a somewhat lackluster performance over the course of the trading session on Wednesday. Despite the choppy trading, the tech-heavy Nasdaq reached a new record closing high.

The major averages eventually ended the session mixed. While the Dow edged down 42.41 points or 0.2 percent to 24,657.80, the Nasdaq climbed 55.93 points or 0.7 percent to 7,781.51 and the S&P 500 rose 4.73 points or 0.2 percent to 2,767.32.

The advance by the Nasdaq partly reflected strength among media stocks after Disney (DIS) raised its offer for most of Twenty-First Century Fox’s (FOXA) media assets.

Disney boosted its bid for the Fox assets $7.1 billion to $38 per share, exceeding the offer made by rival Comcast (CMCSA).

On the other hand, notable declines by Travelers (TRV) and McDonald’s (MCD) contributed to the modest loss posted by the Dow.

General Electric (GE) also moved lower on the day following news it will be replaced in the Dow by Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA).

Meanwhile, traders largely shrugged off concerns about a trade war been the U.S. and China that contributed to weakness on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump has directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to identify $200 billion worth of Chinese goods for additional tariffs at a rate of 10 percent.

Trump said the tariffs will go into effect if China refuses to change its unfair trade practices and insists on going forward with recently announced tariffs.

The president threatened to pursue additional tariffs on another $200 billion worth of goods if China increases its tariffs yet again.

Despite the threat from Trump, China vowed to retaliate with “strong” countermeasures if the U.S. goes ahead with the new tariffs.

On the U.S. economic front, the National Association of Realtors released a report showing an unexpected decrease in existing home sales in the month of May.

NAR said existing home sales fell by 0.4 percent to an annual rate of 5.43 million in May after plunging by 2.7 percent to a downwardly revised 5.45 million in April.

The drop surprised economists, who had expected existing home sales to climb to an annual rate of 5.52 million from the 5.46 million originally reported for the previous month.

Many of the major sectors showed only modest moves on the day, although significant strength was visible among natural gas stocks.

Reflecting the strength in the natural gas sector, the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index jumped by 1.8 percent to its best closing level in almost five months.

The strength among natural gas stocks came amid an increase by the price of the commodity, with natural gas for July delivery climbing $0.064 to $2,964 per million BTUs.

Biotechnology stocks also showed a strong move to the upside, driving the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index up by 1.7 percent. With the gain, the index reached a record closing high.

Steel, tobacco, and real estate stocks also moved notably higher on the day, while gold stocks moved lower along with the price of the precious metal.

Dipo Olowookere

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.

Mr Olowookere can be reached via [email protected]

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