Stocks waver as Trump tariffs draw opposition

U.S. stocks rose modestly Tuesday as investors weighed growing opposition to President Trump's planned steel and aluminum tariffs and North Korea reportedly offered to pledge not to attack South Korea.

House Speaker Paul Ryan publicly broke with the president over the planned tariffs, joining numerous other conservative groups and GOP leaders in warning that tariffs could trigger a trade war. Further, Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, is also widely believed to be fiercely opposed to tariffs and reportedly may resign if they are implemented.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 9.36 points, or 0.04%, to 24,884.12. The S&P 500 added 7.18 points, or 0.26%, to 2,728.12. The Nasdaq Composite was up 41.30 points, or 0.56%, at 7,372.01.

Earlier in the day's session investors focused on North Korean leader Kim Jong, who reportedly promised to not use nuclear or conventional weapons against South Korea and expressed a willingness to hold talks with the United States on denuclearization.

South Korea’s presidential office said that North Korea and South Korea will hold a summit in late April -- the first in over a decade -- something that buoyed investor optimism. South Korea's announcement follows a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and a senior delegation from South Korea.

Reportedly, North Korea will halt weapons testing during the summit while the nation could also be open to talks with the U.S about denuclearization.

At one point in morning trading, equities were boosted by President Trump tweeting that the tariffs he announced on aluminum and steel imports wouldn’t be applied to Canada or Mexico if NAFTA negotiations produced a deal. Shares had taken a hit last week after the tariffs were announced.

Overseas, European markets closed higher, with auto stocks advancing. Those shares recently taking a hit on the threat of a trade war.

“That the EU finds it necessary to react to President Trump’s moves, at a time when it faces the headache of Brexit and real concerns about the unity of its eastern flank, reveals the union’s concerns about the potential hit to trade,” said Chris Beauchamp, Chief Market Analyst at IG. “Still, there are signs that Republicans in Washington are mobilizing in an attempt to block further US moves, and it is this that is helping steady nerves across stock markets.”

Meanwhile, Target shares fell 4.5% on its quarterly earnings miss, which reflected both higher wages and major expenses to refurbish stores and launch exclusive apparel and home furnishing brands.

Ken Martin contributed to this story.