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U.S. Stocks Mixed at Open After Fresh Trade Tensions

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12/02/2019 | 09:56am EST

By Anna Isaac

U.S. stocks were mixed at the open Monday as President Trump revived tariffs against Argentina and Brazil, prompting concerns about trade tensions and dimming earlier optimism regarding improving prospects for the manufacturing sector world-wide.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average recently rose 35.5 points, or 0.13%, while the S&P 500 was flat at up 0.2 point. The Nasdaq Composite was down 6.9 points, or 0.08%.

Mr. Trump's tweeted that he would restore tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Brazil and Argentina as their currencies had weakened against the U.S. dollar.

"We've seen world trade slowing down; the last thing we need is more tariffs to slow it down further," said Lucy Macdonald, chief investment officer for global equities at Allianz Global Investors. "This has been a major source of concern for investors all year: trade, primarily the U.S. and China, but also the U.S. and everywhere else."

The pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 index swung to a loss after the president's tweet, and dropped 0.5%.

The gauge had earlier gained as much as 0.7% after China's economy showed signs of stabilizing and a key European survey signaled better-than-expected manufacturing conditions.

Two separate surveys of manufacturers in China pointed to improving confidence and demand last month. Factory activity in the euro area also gave cause for cautious optimism, with the rate of contraction easing more than markets had expected for the 19-nation region.

While economists said it was too early to say that China, the world's second-largest economy, had recovered, markets earlier in the day had cheered the fact that another major risk to the global economy seemed to be diminishing.

Separately, People's Bank of China Gov. Yi Gang said the central bank wouldn't resort to "competitive" quantitative easing, even if interest rates in other major economies approached zero. Growth remained within a reasonable range, and inflation was relatively mild overall, Mr. Yi wrote in the Communist Party's main political journal, Qiushi. The Shanghai Composite Index ended the day largely flat.

Meanwhile, Brent crude, the global benchmark for oil prices, rose rose 1.7% to $61.51 a barrel after Persian Gulf officials said Saudi Arabia would push for an extension to oil-production cuts through mid-2020 at an Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries summit this week. The kingdom is targeting prices of at least $60 a barrel, according to a Saudi oil adviser.

Later in the day, investors will ready themselves to parse the U.S. Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index for November for any signs of an improvement from October's reading.

Write to Anna Isaac at anna.isaac@wsj.com

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
CHINA-SHANGHAI COMP 0.08% 2914.48 End-of-day quote.16.68%
DJ INDUSTRIAL -0.38% 27909.6 Delayed Quote.19.64%
NASDAQ 100 -0.41% 8362.743592 Delayed Quote.32.66%
NASDAQ COMP. -0.40% 8621.827413 Delayed Quote.30.46%
S&P 500 -0.32% 3135.96 Delayed Quote.25.10%
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