U.S. stocks fell, giving up ground a day after technology stocks helped drive the S&P 500, Nasdaq Composite and Russell 2000 to records. Major indexes spent most of the day edging lower, then extended losses after a Bloomberg report suggested President Trump was backing plans to move ahead with tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports as early as next week. The report took some shine off stocks, which had gotten a boost earlier in the week after Mr. Trump said the White House had reached a trade deal with Mexico. Uncertainty around global trade policies has pressured stocks throughout the year, keeping many investors cautious even as the U.S. economy has looked strong. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 137.65 points, or 0.5%, to 25986.92, snapping a four-session streak of gains. The S&P 500 lost 12.91 points, or 0.4%, to 2901.13 and the Nasdaq Composite declined 21.32 points, or 0.3%, to 8088.36.
Meanwhile, gold futures extended their slump to a third straight session, settling at their lowest in a week, pressured by some strength in the dollar as U.S. economic data reinforced expectations the Federal Reserve will stick to a steady pace of rate increases. Prices for the metal depreciated after data Wednesday showed U.S. economic growth expanding faster than expected during the second quarter. December gold fell $6.50, or 0.5%, to settle at $1,205 an ounce, the lowest finish for a most active contract in a week, according to FactSet data. It was trading around 0.7% lower for the week so far, and poised for a month-to-date loss of 2.3%, which would mark its fifth such loss in a row.
IRON ORE: 66.07s + 0.53 (September contract)
Oil prices climbed to their highest levels in weeks, boosted by a larger-than-expected decline in U.S. petroleum stockpiles. West Texas Intermediate futures rose 1.1% to $70.25 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, closing just short of a six-week high. Brent crude, the global benchmark, gained 0.8% to $77.77 a barrel on London’s Intercontinental Exchange. Brent traded at a seven-week high. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that U.S. crude inventories had come down by 2.6 million barrels last week, more than the one million barrel decline predicted by analysts and traders.
The Japanese yen, a popular destination for nervous investors, was recently up 0.4% against the dollar. Other safe-harbor currencies also appreciated: The Swiss franc rose 0.5% against the euro, and the dollar strengthened against a broad index of its peers. Many investors are unwinding popular emerging-market bets amid a selloff led by an 18% drop in the Argentine peso. That retreat has spurred big drops in a broad range of other emerging-market currencies, including a nearly 4% decline in the Turkish lira. Argentina and Turkey have borne the brunt of an emerging-markets selloff set off by worries that higher borrowing costs in the U.S. will pressure countries that have accumulated potentially unmanageable amounts of dollar debt over the past few years. The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others, was up 0.18 points, or 0.20%, to 89.39.
Meanwhile, in Asia stocks don’t go straight up, as was evident after more than a week of steady gains in Asia Pacific markets. Korea’s Kospi saw a nine-year best nine-day winning streak barely end as Down Under benchmarks narrowly missed closing bests. Equities in the region generally faded in the afternoon, but Japan’s Nikkei was barely able to hang on with an eighth-straight rise. Though Chinese indexes fell more than 1% and Hong Kong ones were off 1%, the region saw muted moves throughout the day. A third exception was Singapore, whose benchmark was off 0.5% despite a 2.2% jump in heavyweight Singapore Telecom. China led declines in the Asian markets, with the Shanghai Composite down 1.1% and the Hang Seng down 0.9% while South Korea’s Kospi edged down 0.1%.