Market Update: U.S. Stocks Rattled by Trade-War Rhetoric; Cryptocurrencies Stabilize After Brief Dip

U.S. stocks turned lower Thursday, with the S&P 500 Index easing off five-month highs as trade tensions and mixed corporate results weighed on investors’ sentiment.

Wall Street Sees Red

The benchmark averages were down across the board, with the large-cap S&P 500 Index edging down 0.4% to 2,804.49. Financials shares were the biggest laggards, falling more 1.4% as a cluster. Materials stocks were also down sharply. In total, eight of 11 primary sectors tracked by the S&P 500 finished in negative territory.

Dow industrials finished down 134.79 points, or 0.5%, to 25,064.50. The Travelers Cos Inc. (TRV) and American Express Co (AMX) were the worst performers, falling 3.7% and 2.7%, respectively.

The technology-driven Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.4% to close at 7,825.40.

The CBOE VIX, also known as the fear index, rebounded from six-month lows, though the underlying picture continued to show complacency in U.S. stocks. The VIX rose more than 6% on Thursday to close at 12.90. Readings below 20 are generally associated with periods of calm on Wall Street.

On the earnings front, shares of eBay Inc. (EBAY) fell after the company offered disappointing guidance in its quarterly report released late Wednesday. Dow blue-chip American Express Co (AXP) posted per-share earnings that were higher than expected, but revenues fell short.

Trade Tensions Weigh

The market downshifted one day after U.S. President Donald Trump reiterated his vow to tax European automakers. Trump threatened “tremendous distribution” against Washington’s allies unless “something fair” could be negotiated.

Earlier this month, levies on $34 billion in Chinese goods came into force as part of an original plan to tax up to $50 billion in imports. The U.S. president has also threatened to implement levies on an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports – a move that Beijing would not be able to match dollar-for-dollar.

Resistance to the president’s tariff policy is growing within Congress, with a bipartisan group of 149 House members urging Trump to abandon his protectionist stance.

Crypto Market Recovers After Dip

The cryptocurrency market remained on track for its second weekly advance in three as bitcoin recovered from an intraday slide and altcoins came off session lows.

After reaching a high of $299.8 billion Wednesday, the cryptocurrency market saw its total capitalization fall to $287.9 billion. Still, trade volumes were $17 billion, which is considered robust in comparison to the last three months.

Bitcoin, the largest crypto asset by market cap and trading volume, was little changed compared with 24 hours ago. BTC values are currently hovering north of $7,450.

Stellar XLM defied the market downtrend to report minor gains on Thursday. In doing so, Lumens overtook Litecoin for sixth spot in the crytpo market cap rankings. At the time of writing, Lumens were trading around $0.31.

EOS was among the worst performers in the top-ten, falling 4.5% to $8.31. IOTA was also down more than 4% to $1.05.

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

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