Stocks spent the morning in the green with the S&P back in striking distance of its prior record high following yesterday's widely anticipated quarter point rate cut from the Federal Reserve. However, the averages lost steam in the afternoon as a reporter that has been viewed as a mouth piece for the Chinese government said that China may not be as ready to reach a deal as U.S. would like to believe. The averages finished with a mixed performance, with the Nasdaq leading and the Dow lagging.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., initial jobless claims edged up 2,000 to 208,000 in the week ended September 14. The Philly Fed index fell 4.8 points to 12.0 in September, which was a little better than expected. The Q2 current account balance deficit narrowed to $128.2B after hitting $136.2B in Q1. Existing home sales rose 1.3% to a 5.49M rate in August, beating expectations. The leading index was unchanged at 112.1 in August.
In trade news, Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Chinese and English editions of the Global Times, tweeted: "Both China and the US should cherish the current talks. Many US officials easily misread China's goodwill, think it shows Beijing's weakness. China doesn't like talking tough before the negotiations, but I know China is not as anxious to reach a deal as the US side thought."
TOP NEWS: Shares of Microsoft (MSFT) rose 1.8% after the tech giant announced last night that its board of directors increased the company's dividend by 11% to 51c per share and approved a new program authorizing up to $40B in share repurchases. In other capitol allocation news, Target (TGT) announced that its board has authorized a new $5B share repurchase program.
Airbnb announced that it expects to become a publicly-traded company during 2020. Airbnb's accommodation marketplace provides access to 7M unique places to stay in more than 100,000 cities and 191 countries and regions, according to the company.
Meanwhile, the CDC said that there are 530 cases of lung injury reported from 38 states and 1 U.S. territory related to vaping, including seven deaths that have been confirmed in six states. Juul, in which Altria Group (MO) has a 35% stake, is the dominant e-cigarette maker in the U.S. Altria and Philip Morris (PM) are currently in merger talks.
Additionally, General Electric (GE) was in focus after Trian Partners' Nelson Peltz said at the CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha conference that GE chief executive officer Larry Culp is "fantastic" and that he "knows how to run a business."
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was China Biologic (CBPO), which gained 10.5% after reporting its receipt of a "going private" offer from Beachhead Holdings and Citic Capital. Also higher was Herman Miller (MLHR), which rose 1.4% after reporting quarterly results.
Among the notable losers was U.S. Steel (X), which slid 11.2% after its Q3 guidance missed analyst expectations. Also lower was GrubHub (GRUB), which dropped 5.1% after Kynikos Associates founder Jim Chanos said that he's short on the stock.
INDEXES: The Dow fell 52.29, or 0.19%, to 27,094.79, the Nasdaq gained 5.49, or 0.067%, to 8,182.88, and the S&P 500 advanced 0.06, or 0.002%, to 3,006.79.