Stocks surrender gains on trade talk confusion

U.S equity markets closed lower on Tuesday, with selling accelerating into the closing bell. Investors wrestled with mixed headlines over the status of calls and talks between the U.S. and China amid what is becoming a costly trade war between the world's two largest economies.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 120 points or over 0.4 percent, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite fell around 0.3 percent.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES31535.51+603.14+1.95%
SP500S&P 5003901.82+90.67+2.38%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX13588.828646+396.48+3.01%

"It remains all about trade as President Donald Trump's comments on the matter had once again been the primary driver for markets at the start of the week," said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG in Singapore. "Even though the sentiment had taken a positive turn on the latest update, uncertainty nevertheless persists to warrant a more cautious stance."

Boeing shares fell after the Russian aircraft-leasing company Avia Capital Services filed a lawsuit in an attempt to cancel its order of 35 737-Max aircraft. In its suit, Avia said the two crashes involving the aircraft were due to Boeing's “negligent actions and decisions."

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
BATHE BOEING CO.224.39+12.38+5.84%

In deal news, cigarette makers Altria and Philip Morris were in focus Tuesday after the latter confirmed the two companies were in merger talks. Altria spun-off Philip Morris in March 2008.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
MOALTRIA GROUP, INC.44.48+0.93+2.14%

Elsewhere, drugmakers remained in the spotlight after an Oklahoma judge on Monday evening ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million in damages --- far less than the $17 billion the state was seeking --- for its role in the state's opioid crisis. The judgment has the opioid makers Teva Pharmaceuticals and Endo International on traders' radars as they too are facing lawsuits from the state.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
JNJJOHNSON & JOHNSON159.32+0.86+0.54%

Late Tuesday, OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma offered $10 billion to $12 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits related to its alleged role in the U.S. opioid crisis.

The proposal emerged from mediation hearings between lawyers for the Sackler family-owned pharmaceutical firm and at least 10 state attorneys general and plaintiffs’ attorneys, NBC News first reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. Purdue Pharma board member. David Sackler appeared at the Aug. 20 meeting in Cleveland on behalf of the Sackler family.

“While Purdue Pharma is prepared to defend itself vigorously in the opioid litigation, the company has made clear that it sees little good coming from years of wasteful litigation and appeals. The people and communities affected by the opioid crisis need help now. Purdue believes a constructive global resolution is the best path forward, and the company is actively working with the state attorneys general and other plaintiffs to achieve this outcome" the company said via a statement.

Money continued to flow into U.S. Treasurys, pushing the 10-year yield down 2.5 basis points to 1.51 percent.

On the commodities front, both precious metals and energy were higher.


Ken Martin contributed to this report.