WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Stocks have turned mixed over the course of the trading session on Friday after recovering from an initial move to the downside. The choppy trading on the day comes on the heels of the notable rebound from Monday's sell-off seen over the three previous sessions.
Currently, the major averages are on opposite sides of the unchanged line. After falling more than 200 points, the Dow is up 33.26 points or 0.1 percent at 25,895.94, while the Nasdaq is down 24.37 points or 0.3 percent at 7,873.68 and the S&P 500 is down 1.40 points or 0.1 percent at 2,874.92.
The initial weakness on Wall Street reflected lingering concerns about the escalating trade dispute between the U.S. and China.
President Donald Trump has sought to blame China for backing out of a nearly completed trade deal, although a spokesperson for China's Ministry of Commerce claims the U.S. is responsible for serious setbacks in the trade talks.
Commerce Ministry spokesperson Gao Feng accused the Trump administration of 'bullying behavior' with a recent increase in tariffs, according to state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua.
'It is regrettable that the U.S. side unilaterally escalated trade disputes, which resulted in severe negotiating setbacks,' Gao said.
He added, 'We urge the U.S. side to correct wrongdoings as soon as possible to avoid causing heavier damages to businesses and consumers in both countries and dragging down the global economy.'
However, concerns about trade waned after the Trump administration officially delayed imposing tariffs on imported automobiles and parts for up to six months, confirming media reports from earlier this week.
A White House statement noted Trump has directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to negotiate agreements to address the national security threat posed by auto imports.
'United States defense and military superiority depend on the competitiveness of our automobile industry and the research and development that industry generates,' White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.
She added, 'The negotiation process will be led by United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and, if agreements are not reached within 180 days, the President will determine whether and what further action needs to be taken.'
On the U.S. economic front, the University of Michigan released a report showing a substantial improvement in consumer sentiment in May, although the data was recorded mostly before trade negotiations with China collapsed.
The preliminary report showed the consumer sentiment index surged up to 102.4 in May from 97.2 in April, reaching its highest level in fifteen years. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 97.5.
Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves in mid-day trading, contributing to the lackluster performance by the broader markets.
Oil service stocks continue to see significant weakness, however, with the Philadelphia Oil Service Index slumping by 1.2 percent.
The weakness in the oil service sector comes despite a modest increase by the price of crude oil, as crude for June delivery is rising $0.18 to $63.05 a barrel.
On the other hand, considerable strength has emerged among computer hardware stocks, as reflected by the 1.9 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index.
Shares of Cray Inc. (CRAY) are soaring by 18.5 percent after she supercomputer maker agreed to be acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) for $1.3 billion in cash.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.9 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index plunged by 2.5 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets climbed off their worst levels but still closed lower. While the German DAX Index slid by 0.6 percent, the French CAC 40 Index dipped by 0.2 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged down by 0.1 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries have given back ground after an initial jump but continue to see modest strength. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.1 basis points at 2.394 percent.
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