Market Update: Stocks Rise as Canada, U.S. Salvage Free Trade Deal; Bitcoin Holds Its Ground

U.S. stocks finished mostly higher on Monday, as markets cheered a last-ditch effort by American and Canadian negotiators to salvage a new free trade agreement ahead of a self-imposed deadline by the Trump administration. Cryptocurrencies edged lower at the start of the week, though bitcoin came out largely unscathed for a slightly bigger share of the market.

Stocks Mostly Higher

Two of Wall Street’s three leading indexes rose on Monday, with the S&P 500 and Dow back within reach of record levels. The large-cap S&P 500 Index set a new intraday record before paring gains later in the day. The benchmark finished 0.4% higher at 2,924.69, with six of 11 primary sectors recording gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 194.67 points, or 0.7%, to close at 26,652.98. Meanwhile, the technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index stumbled in afternoon trading, falling 0.1% to 8,037.30.

Primary industries were the strongest performers on Monday. Shares of energy, materials and industrials companies rose more than 0.8% on average.

Canada, U.S. Agree on New Trade Accord

After more than a year of negotiation, Canada has officially joined the United States and Mexico in a new trade accord that will replace the decades old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The surprise breakthrough happened late Sunday as Canadian and American negotiators raced against a self-imposed deadline set for Sept. 30.

By meeting the deadline, Congress can begin a mandatory 60-day review period before official signoff by the President. This also gives Mexico’s out-going President Enrique Pena Nieto enough time to sign the agreement before his far-left successor, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, assumes power.

President Trump lauded the NAFTA replacement as a “historic” deal that will solve many of the deficiencies of the previous regime.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland released the following joint statement:

“Today, Canada and the United States reached an agreement, alongside Mexico, on a new, modernized trade agreement for the 21st Century: the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“USMCA will give our workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses a high-standard trade agreement that will result in freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in our region.”

Crypto Markets Edge Lower

Cryptoassets maintained a defensive posture on Monday as XRP gave back most of its weekend advance and other leading altcoins failed to rise. The market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies touched a session low of $219.2 billion before rebounding above $220 billion.

Bitcoin, the largest crypto by market cap, was relatively unaffected by the slight downturn. BTC continues to trade between $6,550-$6,600 after fluctuating within a narrow range for most of the day.

Digital assets remain in a holding pattern despite improving market fundamentals and signs of growing adoption among institutions, businesses and even governments. The market remains in a firm downtrend after several failed breakout attempts.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chief Editor to and Contributor to, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi