Strong Earnings Lift Nasdaq as Trade Tensions Weigh on Dow; Crypto Markets Look Beyond Bitcoin ETF Hysteria

U.S. stocks traded mixed on Thursday, as upbeat quarterly earnings from chipmakers and airliners boosted the Nasdaq despite weaker performances from the Dow and S&P 500. Cryptocurrencies rose slightly as investors shrugged off CBOE’s abrupt withdrawal of a highly-touted bitcoin ETF application.

Stocks Finish Mostly Higher

Wall Street’s major indexes diverged on Thursday. Strong earnings chipmakers Texas Instruments Inc. (TXN), Lam Research Corp (LRCX) and Xilinx Inc. (XLNX) propelled the Nasdaq Composite Index sharply higher. The tech-laden index rose 0.7% to 7,073.46.

After languishing for most of the day, the S&P 500 Index eked out narrow gains in the final moments of trading. The index closed up 0.1% at 2,642.33. Big losses in consumer staples and health care offset sizable gains for information technology and energy companies.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) pared losses to finish down 22.38 points, or 0.1%, at 24,553.24.

China’s Impact Extends Beyond Trade

Signs of stalled trade negotiations between the U.S. and China reverberated across the markets this week even after Trump’s top economic adviser assured that negotiations were still on track. Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council, dismissed rumors that the U.S. had abruptly cancelled forthcoming trade talks with China.

That being said, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC Thursday that both countries remain “miles and miles” apart on a new trade deal. He said this shouldn’t “too surprising” given the myriad of issues facing both nations.

“We would like to make a deal but it has to be a deal that will work for both parties,” he said. “We’re miles and miles from getting a resolution.”

China’s economy shifted into lower gear at the end of 2018, growing just 6.4% annually in the fourth quarter. European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi acknowledged Thursday that China’s slowing growth will have adverse effects on the Eurozone economy, which is now projected to be weaker than previously expected.

Cryptos Stable

The cryptocurrency market endured another uneventful day Thursday, as investor shrugged off news that CBOE had withdrawn its proposal for the VanEck-SolidX Bitcoin Trust. The application was widely regarded as the most competitive bitcoin ETF proposal to-date. More on that story can be found here: Crypto Markets See Minor Losses as Investors Shrug Off Bitcoin ETF Withdrawal.

Crypto prices fluctuated between minor gains and losses, with the total market capitalization reaching $120.7 billion.

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market cap, rose 0.8% in afternoon trading to reach $3,613.27. Its share of the overall market held steady at 52.4%.

Gains for XRP and Ethereum were also limited to less than 1% apiece. XRP climbed 0.7% to $0.385. Ethereum edged up 0.5% to $117.98.

EOS, Litecoin and Tron rounded out the gainers in the top ten. On the opposite side of the ledger, bitcoin cash, Stellar and bitcoin SV posted slight losses.

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