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Stocks fall because investors are unimpressed by trade progress

Posted at 7:05 AM, Jul 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-24 10:37:22-04

The Dow and the broader US stock market turned lower on Wednesday, because investors are worried about the boy who cried wolf on trade talks between the United States and China.

The Dow opened 0.5%, or 121 points, lower. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite opened 02.% and 0.3% lower, respectively. Two hours into trading, the Dow pared some of its losses but remains down 0.3%, while both the S&P and the Nasdaq have turned modestly positive.

On Tuesday, the Dow closed just 10 points below its most recent all-time high. Despite the anticipated weaker open, it could hit a fresh record on Wednesday

Caterpillar dragged the Dow lower. The stock fell nearly 5% after missing earnings expectations and cutting its forward guidance.

Early next week, US trade representatives will be heading to China for a next round of trade talks. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said “hopefully we’ll continue to make progress,” during an interview with CNBC.

But the seemingly good news on the trade front left the stock market unimpressed.

“The news is undoubtedly positive for sentiment in the markets but unfortunately, we’ve got excited about this before which may partly explain why the spike in stocks was so short-lived,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, in a note to investors.

Instead, investors will continue to focus on Friday’s GDP data, and next week’s Federal Reserve meeting.

In Thursday’s economic data, new home sales for June came in below expectations and the Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ index dropped to its weakest level since September 2009.

The US dollar, measured by the ICE US Dollar Index, is slightly weaker versus its main rivals. Its down 0.1% at 97.625. This year, the dollar gauge is up 1.5%.

Mnuchin said on CNBC that a strong dollar signified a strong US economy. “I think the dollar is the reserve currency of the world, [and] it’s in our interest to maintain it,” he said.

This is at odds with previous comments from President Donald Trump, who has called the dollar too strong, saying it was hurting the competitiveness of US goods on the global market.