Stocks – S&P Drifts Lower on Weak Retail Sales, China Worries

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© Reuters. © Reuters. – Stocks drifted lower Wednesday on a weaker-than-expected report on retail sales and growing fears about how firm the Chinese trade deal really is.

The trade worries helped push energy stocks lower and weighed on tech stocks.

The was off 0.2%, with the down 0.08%. The tech-heavy and indices dropped 0.3% each, in part because Apple (NASDAQ:) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:) moved lower.

The report for September showed a 0.3% decline when most economists expected a gain. The decline — the first since February — boosted fears that a slowing global economy is affecting U.S. consumers.

At the same time, worries grew about the Chinese trade deal announced last week. President Donald Trump said it meant China would be buying $50 billion to $60 billion in U.S. farm products “in less than two years.” But some analysts told The Wall Street Journal that that’s way beyond what China has bought in any one year.

At the same time, the deal could hinge on the U.S. suspending imposition of new 15% tariffs on $156 billion in Chinese imports. The tariffs are supposed to take effect Dec. 15. China may balk at the farm purchases if the tariffs aren’t suspended.

The uncertainty weighed on futures trading for corn and soybeans, with both moving lower. Both commodities depend on exports.

The trade worries also affected tech stocks because sales to China have been huge growth drivers.

Homebuilders and other consumer discretionary stocks and communications services stocks like Facebook (NASDAQ:), (NASDAQ:) and Google parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:) were higher.

General Motors (NYSE:) moved 1.1% higher after the automaker and the United Auto Workers said they reached a tentative deal that could end a month-old strike.

Oil prices moved up, as did precious metals prices. Interest rates were mostly lower.

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