The major averages were mixed and searching for direction for much of the morning, though stocks picked up some downward momentum after President Trump told reporters at the White House, according to CNBC, that a trade deal with China has "a long way to go." The president also warned that he could still impose more tariffs on China, but helping to ease the trade worries are investors' continued belief that the Fed will cut rates at the end of this month, even after decent retail sales, factory output and housing data that was released this morning.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., the retail sales report slightly beat estimates with 0.4% month-over-month sales gains both with and without autos in June. An index of import prices declined 0.9% and export prices fell 0.7% in June. Industrial production was flat in June, with capacity utilization dipping to 77.9% from 78.1%, which was weaker than expected. Business inventories rose 0.3% in May, with sales up 0.2%. The NAHB housing market index for July rebounded 1 point to 65 after falling 2 points in June.
In trade news, U.S. President Donald Trump is said to have told reporters at the White House that a trade agreement with China has a long way to go.
TOP NEWS: Two big banking members of the Dow - JPMorgan (JPM) and Goldman Sachs (GS) - both closed higher following their quarterly reports, giving some support to the blue chip index.
The third Dow member to report this morning, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), offset some of the banks' strength with a slide of 1.6% despite the fact that the drug and consumer goods giant reported better than expected Q2 results, backed its FY19 adjusted profit view and raised its full-year sales outlook.
Another household name in finance, Wells Fargo (WFC), finished 3% lower after the bank's second quarter report.
Arrow Electronics (ARW) fell 1.7% after the semiconductor distributor cut its guidance, stating that its "anticipated results for the second quarter are lower than we had initially expected due to deteriorating demand conditions in the global components business."
Meanwhile, Tesla (TSLA) was in focus after CEO Elon Musk said via Twitter that the cost of Tesla's full self-driving option will increase by about $1,000 on August 16. Musk added that the cost of the Tesla FDS option will increase every few months.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Blue Apron (APRN), which surged 36% after it said that Beyond Meat (BYND) burgers will be included on its "Signature Two-Serving Plan" starting in August. Beyond Meat shares rose 3.6% after the news. Also higher was J.B. Hunt (JBHT), which gained 5.6% after reporting quarterly results.
Among the notable losers was Qutoutiao (QTT), which slid 4.6% after announcing that, in compliance with recent regulatory requirements, Midu Novels will temporarily suspend content updates and certain commercial activities from July 16 to October 15. Also lower was Domino's Pizza (DPZ), which fell 8.7% after reporting quarterly results.
INDEXES: The Dow fell 23.53, or 0.086%, to 27,335.63, the Nasdaq lost 35.39, or 0.43%, to 8,222.80, and the S&P 500 declined 10.26, or 0.34%, to 3,004.04.