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U.S. Stocks Waver on Earnings, China Data

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10/18/2019 | 10:31am EST

By Max Bernhard

U.S. stocks were little changed Friday, with major indexes poised to close the week with gains after a strong kickoff to corporate earnings season and an easing of trade tensions with China.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked down 0.1% in morning trading. The S&P 500 slipped less than 0.1%, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.1%.

Johnson & Johnson slumped 3.4%, weighing on the Dow, as the company said it was recalling a single lot of its Johnson's Baby Powder after tests found the small amounts of chrysotile asbestos contamination.

Shares in Coca-Cola jumped 1.8% following higher sales posted by the beverage giant.

The S&P 500 is on course for a 0.8% gain for the week, powered by upbeat quarterly earnings reports from banks like JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup and hopes that the trade dispute with China is closer to a resolution.

Overseas, Chinese stocks dropped sharply Friday after data showed the Chinese the economy slowed further in the third quarter, adding to concerns about global growth.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.3%, its biggest decline in a month. Fresh data showed that China's economy grew 6% in the quarter as business activity continued to deteriorate in the world's No. 2 economy. Each quarterly slowdown in growth has pulled the economic performance to new lows not seen since the current measure of output was adopted in 1992.

"The figures are painting markets in red today," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at London Capital Group. "Pulling below 6% would be really bad for investor sentiment, not only in China, but globally."

The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 slipped 0.2%. In the U.K., the FTSE 250 equity index ticked 0.3% higher and the pound wavered between gains and losses against the U.S. dollar. Investors are watching developments closely before U.K. lawmakers vote Saturday on a draft Brexit agreement struck with the European Union. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to muster enough support for the deal in the U.K. Parliament.

French auto maker Renault declined 12.1% after cutting its full-year revenue and operating-margin guidance on a sales slump outside Europe and higher costs from developing lower-emissions car models.

Later in the day, investors might get clues on potential U.S. central-bank activity when Federal Reserve officials, including Robert Kaplan and Richard Clarida, make speeches.

Write to Max Bernhard at Max.Bernhard@dowjones.com

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
CHINA-SHANGHAI COMP -1.83% 2909.98 End-of-day quote.16.50%
CITIGROUP INC. -0.68% 75.6 Delayed Quote.45.22%
DJ INDUSTRIAL 0.04% 27691.49 Delayed Quote.18.66%
EURO / BRITISH POUND (EUR/GBP) -0.07% 0.85779 Delayed Quote.-4.10%
JOHNSON & JOHNSON -0.77% 131.98 Delayed Quote.2.27%
JPMORGAN CHASE & CO. -0.35% 129.92 Delayed Quote.33.56%
NASDAQ 100 -0.17% 8241.911835 Delayed Quote.30.43%
NASDAQ COMP. -0.13% 8464.276795 Delayed Quote.27.73%
NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. -0.42% 707 End-of-day quote.-17.42%
RENAULT -1.24% 46.165 Real-time Quote.-15.37%
S&P 500 -0.20% 3087.01 Delayed Quote.23.14%
STOXX EUROPE 600 -0.02% 405.34 Delayed Quote.20.07%
STOXX EUROPE 600 NR -0.02% 873.39 Delayed Quote.23.44%
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