NEW YORK, Nov 14 — The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 posted record closing highs yesterday helped by a big jump in Walt Disney shares, but the Nasdaq fell as stocks were kept in check by fresh uncertainty over US-China trade relations.
The Wall Street Journal reported during the session that US-China trade negotiations have hit a snag over farm purchases, the latest development in a dispute between the two countries that has convulsed markets for more than a year.
The three indexes had all drifted higher earlier in the day after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said US central bankers see a “sustained expansion” ahead for the country’s economy.
Stocks have recently climbed to record levels, fuelled by Fed interest rate cuts, third-quarter earnings exceeding low expectations and signs the economy is bottoming. But questions about an initial agreement to help resolve the US-China trade dispute remain a key wild card.
“It’s still about China and investors trying to decide whether there’s a deal coming or not,” said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Vernon, New Jersey.
“It’s really left investors uncertain,” Meckler said. “They don’t want to sell into a possible announced deal, but they also don’t want to get whipsawed by, again, some disappointment over it.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 92.1 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 27,783.59, the S&P 500 gained 2.2 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 3,094.04 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.99 points, or 0.05 per cent, to 8,482.10.
Among the S&P 500 sectors, traditionally defensive groups such as utilities, real estate and consumer staples ended sharply positive, while cyclical sectors, such as financials, energy and materials, which are known for tracking the health of the economy, lagged.
“The leadership today is defensive,” said Mona Mahajan, US investment strategist with Allianz Global Investors.
Investors also had their eyes on geopolitical developments, including presidential impeachment hearings in the United States and protests in Hong Kong.
Walt Disney Co shares jumped 7.3 per cent after the media company said its new streaming service, Disney+, had reached 10 million sign-ups since launching the previous day. Disney shares provided the biggest boost to the Dow and the S&P 500.
Shares of streaming rival Netflix Inc sank 3.0 per cent.
SmileDirectClub Inc shares slumped 20.3 per cent after the teeth alignment company reported a bigger quarterly loss.
About three-fourths of S&P 500 companies have topped earnings estimates in their third-quarter reports, but the companies are still expected to have posted an overall 0.5 per cent decline in earnings, according to Refinitiv data.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.17-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.35-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 25 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 77 new highs and 124 new lows.
About 6.8 billion shares changed hands in US exchanges, roughly in line with the daily average over the last 20 sessions. — Reuters