WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Stocks continue to show a lack of direction in mid-day trading on Friday, as traders have once again retreated to the sidelines amid renewed uncertainty about a potential U.S.-China trade deal. The major averages have spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.
Currently, the major averages continue to turn in a mixed performance. While the Dow is down 48.05 points or 0.2 percent at 27,626.75, the Nasdaq is up 17.42 points or 0.2 percent at 8,451.93 and the S&P 500 is up 0.57 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 3,085.75.
The choppy trading on Wall Street comes as traders digest conflicting information regarding negotiations of a U.S.-China trade deal.
Comments from a Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman indicating the U.S. and China had agreed to roll back existing tariffs as part of a phase one trade deal contributed to strength in the markets on Thursday.
However, President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday that he has not agreed to lift the tariffs on China.
The comments from Trump come after a report from Reuters said the idea of rolling back tariffs faces fierce internal opposition from the president's advisers.
Multiple sources familiar with the talks told Reuters the idea of a tariff rollback was not part of the original October 'handshake' deal between Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.
Citing current and former administration officials, Reuters said there is a divide within the administration over whether rolling back tariffs will give away U.S. leverage in the negotiations.
The latest reports have sparked renewed uncertainty about what type of trade deal Trump will ultimately be willing to accept.
Trump has repeatedly criticized past administrations for being too weak on China, but he would also like a big political victory ahead of next year's presidential election.
Meanwhile, traders have largely shrugged off a report from the University of Michigan showing a slight improvement in U.S. consumer sentiment in the month of November.
The report said the consumer sentiment index inched up to 95.7 in November after rising to 95.5 in October. Economists had expected to index to tick up to 95.9.
'The early November reading on consumer sentiment was nearly identical to last month's and the average 2019 level (95.6),' said Surveys of Consumers chief economist Richard Curtin.
He added, 'Consumers did voice a slightly more positive outlook for the economy, which was offset by a slightly less favorable outlook for their own personal finances.'
Curtin said one-in-four consumers spontaneously made negative references to tariffs but noted references to the impact of Trump's impeachment on economic prospects were virtually non-existent.
Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day, contributing to the lackluster performance by the broader markets.
Significant strength is visible among networking stocks, however, with Ubiquiti (UI) and Viasat (VSAT) posting standout gains after reporting better than expected quarterly results.
Biotechnology and tobacco stocks have also shown strong moves to the upside, driving the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index and the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index up by 1.8 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.3 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slid by 0.7 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the downside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index closed just below the unchanged line, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.5 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries have moved modestly higher over the course of the session after seeing initial weakness. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.4 basis points at 1.912 percent.
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