Stocks close down after Iran seizes UK tanker

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Market setting itself up for a let down by Fed?

Altium Wealth Portfolio Manager Michael Lee on the Federal Reserve and the outlook for Netflix and Microsoft.

Stocks closed lower Friday after Iran seized a U.K. tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, adding to ongoing concerns over the fate of U.S.-China trade talks.

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Shortly before markets closed in New York, Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz amid growing tensions in the region.

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The Stena Impero, which has a crew of 23 onboard, “was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters,” Stena Bulk, the shipping company that owns the vessel, said in a statement. "We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran.”

The seizure added to ongoing concerns, as investors continue to guess at the Fed’s future actions, the dashed hopes for a quick U.S.-China trade deal after negotiations broke down in May continued to be a drag on the top three equity benchmarks. Weak earnings from Netflix also weighed on the exchanges.

TickerSecurityLastChange%Chg
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES26073.37-62.42-0.24%
SP500S&P 5002918.39-5.26-0.18%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX7998.555475-4.26-0.05%

In a speech on Thursday, Federal Reserve President John Williams urged the central bank to “act quickly” amid a slowdown in U.S. economic growth.

The comments, which investors interpreted as a nod to the expected rate reductions at the end of July, took markets into positive territory after declines for much of the day.

A Fed spokesperson, however, later clarified that the speech was not meant to give any indication to the central bank’s pending decision at the two-day meeting beginning on July 30.

TickerSecurityLastChange%Chg
MSFTMICROSOFT CORP.138.410.000.00%
BABOEING COMPANY331.29-2.49-0.75%
KSUKANSAS CITY STHN122.74+0.66+0.54%
AXPAMERICAN EXPRESS COMPANY123.28-1.12-0.90%

Later in the day, Federal Reserve Vice Chair Richard Clarida backed a quick cut to interest rates during an interview with FOX Business.

On Friday, strong financial results from Microsoft through June, as well as Boeing’s announcement that it would take a nearly $5 billion hit from the Max grounding, are behind the increases in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Kansas City Southern shares rose after the railroad operator posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

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Credit card issuer American Express Co beat profit estimates but shares slipped as expenses jumped.