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U.S. Stocks Lack Direction Amid Uncertainty About Trade

(RTTNews) - After coming under pressure early in the session, stocks have shown a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Tuesday. The major averages have spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

Currently, the major averages are posting modest losses on the day. The Dow is down 20.25 points or 0.1 percent at 26,697.17, the Nasdaq is down 16.95 points or 0.2 percent at 8,074.22 and the S&P 500 is down 1.45 points or 0.1 percent at 2,962.88.

The choppy trading on Wall Street comes amid renewed uncertainty about global trade after the U.S. proposed new tariffs on more European goods as part of an ongoing dispute over aircraft subsidies.

The U.S. Trade Representative issued a supplemental list of approximately $4 billion worth of products that could potentially be subject to additional duties.

In response to public comments and additional analysis, the USTR is adding the supplemental list to an initial list of $21 billion worth of products published on April 12.

The threat of additional tariffs comes as the U.S. and the European Union have been engaged in a long-running World Trade Organization dispute regarding EU aircraft subsidies.

While the U.S. and China have agreed to restart stalled trade talks, the news is a reminder that President Donald Trump is fighting a trade war on multiple fronts.

Traders may also be somewhat reluctant to make more significant moves amid a quiet day on the U.S. economic data front.

A slew of data is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, although traders may remain away from their desks ahead of the July 4th holiday on Thursday.

Looking a little further ahead, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its closely watched monthly employment report for June on Friday.

Economists expect to report to show employment climbed by 158,000 jobs in June after edging up by 75,000 jobs in May. The unemployment rate is expected to hold at 3.6 percent.

Sector News

Despite the lack of direction being shown by the broader markets, energy stocks continue to see substantial weakness amid a steep drop by the price of crude oil.

Crude for August delivery has plummeted $2.28 to $56.81 a barrel as concerns about global demand overshadow a widely expected agreement by OPEC and its allies to extend production cuts.

Reflecting the weakness in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index has nosedived by 3.2 percent, the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index is down by 2.3 percent and the NYSE Arca Oil Index is down by 1.6 percent.

Semiconductor stocks have also come under pressure, giving back ground following the jump seen in the previous session. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index is tumbling by 1.4 percent after ending Monday's trading at its best closing level in nearly two months.

On the other hand, gold stocks have shown a substantial move back to the upside on the heels of yesterday's sell-off, with the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index spiking by 2.7 percent.

The rally by gold stocks comes amid a rebound by the price of the precious metal, as gold for August delivery is surging up $16.20 to $1,405.50 an ounce.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, most stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a lackluster performance during trading on Tuesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index closed just below the unchanged line.

Meanwhile, European stocks ended the day mostly higher. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.8 percent, the French CAC 40 Index edged up by 0.2 percent and the German DAX Index closed just above the unchanged line.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved back to the upside following the pullback seen in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 4.5 basis points at 1.989 percent.
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