Stocks are mostly higher in early trading on Wall Street Wednesday as gains in health care and other sectors outweighed losses in technology companies.
Investors continued to shift money into U.S. government bonds, driving long-term bond yields further below short-term ones. The so-called inversion of the U.S. yield curve is a rare phenomenon that has correctly predicted previous recessions.
Uncertainty over whether the trade war between the U.S. and China will drag the economy into a recession has roiled markets and sent investors seeking shelter in bonds, gold and other traditional safe-haven assets.
The S&P 500 was up less than 0.1% as of 10:20 a.m. Eastern Time. The benchmark index has fallen for the past four weeks in a row. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 22 points, or 0.1%, to 25,798. The Nasdaq, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, slid 0.3%.
European markets were broadly lower after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to suspend Parliament, which would hamper lawmakers’ efforts to stop a no-deal departure from the European Union in October.
The yield in the 10-year Treasury fell below that of the two-year Treasury on Tuesday and remained lower in early trading Wednesday. The 10-year yield slid to 1.46%, down from 1.49% late Tuesday. The two-year was at 1.50%, down from 1.52% a day earlier.
When the yield curve inverted earlier this month for the first time since 2007, it led to a broad market sell-off.
The major U.S. indexes are on track for losses of 3% or more in August in what has been a volatile month for the market.
Last week, the trade conflict escalated again with Washington and Beijing threatening new tariffs on each other’s goods, triggering a sharp sell-off in global markets. On Monday the market recouped some of those losses after President Donald Trump said his negotiators had received encouraging calls from China over the weekend. Traders drew encouragement from the development, even though China’s foreign ministry denied knowledge of any such calls.
U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators are due to meet next month in Washington, but neither side has given any indication of offering concessions to break a deadlock. A round of talks last month in Shanghai ended with no sign of progress.
With little to no news after President Trump’s conflicting comments this week on the status of negotiations, investors are “finding it difficult to put a finger as to where the ongoing U.S.-China trade issue is headed,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a report. “The saying that we are a tweet (from Trump) away from the next trade escalation between U.S. and China had certainly grown to become the broad view.”
Investors were also weighing a mixed batch of corporate earnings reports and outlooks Wednesday.
Autodesk plunged 12.4% after the software company slashed its full-year forecasts, while Movado Group sank 20.5% after the company’s earnings and revenue fell short of Wall Street’s forecasts.
Dycom Industries rose 5% after its second quarter results came in ahead of analysts’ expectations.
AP Business Writers Joe McDonald and Matt Ott contributed.