Stocks ended the session mixed as investors weighed strong results from the likes of Walmart against more conflicting signals about the status of a U.S.-Chinese trade deal as well as potential progress on getting USMCA passed.
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Despite the modest moves, U.S. stocks remain near or at record levels.
Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testified on Capitol Hill for a second day, saying that he doesn't expect sluggish U.S. factory activity to spill into the broader economy. On Wednesday, Powell told the Senate Banking Committee that he expects the U.S. economy to keep growing at a solid pace, but there are risks from slower global growth and trade tensions.
In corporate earnings, Dow component Walmart reversed early gains after providing a boost after the retail giant reported online sales surged 41 percent amid strength in groceries. The world's largest retailer raised its full-year adjusted earnings per share guidance ahead of the crucial holiday quarter.
President Trump fired off a congratulatory tweet to the world's largest retailer.
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Elsewhere, cannabis producer Canopy Growth's adjusted core loss widened to 155.75 million Canadian dollars. It also said it would stop expanding in Canada shares took a beating.
Tyson Foods gained after China lifted a ban on U.S. poultry that had been in place since January 2015. The decision paves the way for the U.S. to export more than $1 billion worth of poultry and poultry products to China each year.
“I’d like to see us get it done this year, I mean, that would be my goal,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill, adding that she wants the USMCA to “be a template for future trade agreements.”
In U.S.-China news, China's Commerce Ministry said canceling tariffs is an important condition for reaching a phase one trade agreement.
Investors were wary after The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday evening that Chinese negotiators were reluctant to commit to the size of purchases of U.S. farm goods in an interim agreement aimed at ending a tariff war. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told FOX Business' Liz McDonald later on Wednesday that the report is "rumor stuff" and said someone is "making a lot of money moving the markets."
On the commodities front, West Texas Intermediate was down 0.4 percent at $57.00 a barrel after weekly inventory data showed a bigger-than-expected build. Gold was up 0.6 percent near $1,472 an ounce.
Meanwhile, U.S. Treasurys were higher for a third straight session. The yield on the 10-year note was down 4.7 basis points to 1.822 percent after finishing at 1.933 percent on Friday. The U.S. Treasury market was closed on Monday in observance of Veterans Day.
China’s government reported Thursday that factory activity and spending weakened more than expected in October. Growth in industrial production slowed to 4.7 percent from September's 5.8 percent, and retail sales growth weakened to a six-month low of 7.2 percent.
In Asia, the Shanghai Composite gained 0.2 percent, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.8 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.9 percent.
In European trading, London's FTSE was down 0.8 percent, Germany's DAX fell 0.4 percent and France's CAC slipped 0.1 percent.
FOX Business' Ken Martin and The Associated Press contributed to this article.