Stocks edge lower, trade uncertainty looms large

Trade and big M&A divided investors on Thursday

Stocks fell on Thursday but traded in a narrow range as investors weighed another round of uncertainty on trade both on talks with China and the future of the United States Mexico Canada Agreement or USMCA.

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The Dow, down for three straight sessions, suffered its worst losing streak since August. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished with modest losses.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES27983.13-31.93-0.11%
SP500S&P 5003147.46+1.55+0.05%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX8671.098342+14.57+0.17%

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that passing USMCA remained uncertain and more work needs to be done by all the countries involved. This backtracks her previous comments signaling a willingness to get the deal passed this year.

On the U.S.-China talks, Reuters reported on Thursday that the phase one trade deal that President Trump had said he hoped to sign this month may not be completed this year as negotiators continue to wrestle over differences.

As investors evaluated trade news, dealmaking made a splash.

Charles Schwab is buying TD Ameritrade in $26 billion deal, FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo has learned. Shares of the two brokerage firms are sharply higher, and official word of the deal is expected to come later Thursday. Rival E-Trade was lower while Interactive Brokers gained.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
SCHWCHARLES SCHWAB48.90-0.05-0.10%
AMTDTD AMERITRADE HOLDING51.06-0.06-0.11%
ETFCE*TRADE GROUP (E*TRADE BANK AG)45.56-0.25-0.55%
IBKRINTERACTIVE BROKERS46.98-0.23-0.48%

Meanwhile, marijuana stocks are getting a lift after a House committee approved a proposal to decriminalize the drug nationwide. It remains unclear if the bill will see a full House vote.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
ACBAURORA CANNABIS INC.2.52+0.09+3.50%
CGCCANOPY GROWTH CORP20.83+2.18+11.69%
CRONCRONOS GROUP6.98+0.27+4.02%
TLRYTILRAY INC19.12+0.92+5.04%

Tesla is gaining ground ahead of its event Thursday evening where it is scheduled to unveil its Cybertruck. CEO Elon Musk has said the electric pickup truck, which will start at $49,000, is "a better truck than an F-150, in terms of truck-like functionality, and be a better sports car than a [Porsche] 911.”

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
TSLATESLA INC.341.21+5.32+1.58%

On the earnings front, Macy's reported mixed third-quarter results and cut its full-year earnings and sales forecasts. The retailer cited the "late arrival of cold weather, continued soft international tourism and weaker than anticipated performance in lower-tier malls" as reasons for declining sales. Nordstrom and Gap will release their quarterly results after the closing bell.

L Brands reported in-line earnings and revenue and forecast a better-than-expected holiday season. The company said same-store sales at its Victoria's Secret brand fell 7 percent year-over-year. FOX Business' Charlie Gasparino reported that the retailer and its CEO Leslie Wexner may be the target of activist investors over an uneven performance of the company as well as Wexner's ties to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
MMACY'S INC.15.20+0.05+0.33%
JWNNORDSTROM38.59+1.03+2.74%
GPSGAP16.39+0.12+0.74%
LBL BRANDS INC.17.75-0.07-0.36%

Commodities are mixed with gold down 0.3 percent at $1,470 an ounce and West Texas Intermediate crude oil up 1.4 percent at $57.80 a barrel.

U.S. Treasurys were lower, running the yield on the 10-year note up 2.6 basis points to 1.77 percent.

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In Asian trading, Hong Kong led the region with its benchmark Hang Seng index falling 1.6 percent, China's Shanghai Composite lost 0.3 percent and Japan’s Nikkei gave up 0.5 percent.

In Europe, London's FTSE slipped 0.7 percent, Germany's DAX was off 0.1 percent and France's CAC was also down 0.2 percent.

FOX Business' Ken Martin and the Associated Press contributed to this report.