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U.S. Stocks Waver on Mixed Earnings -- Update

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07/18/2019 | 02:57pm EDT

By Lauren Almeida and Akane Otani

U.S. stocks wobbled Thursday, kept under pressure by a string of mixed earnings reports and sliding energy shares.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4 points, or less than 0.1%, to 27216. The S&P 500 rose 0.3% and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.2%.

With few major economic reports scheduled for release this week, investors have turned their attention to corporate results, which have shown U.S. companies on uneven footing.

Netflix shed 11%, heading for its biggest one-day percentage decline since 2016, after the video-streaming giant said late Wednesday that its number of subscribers in the U.S. declined for the first time in nearly a decade. Equipment-rental company United Rentals lost 6.8% after narrowing its full-year revenue outlook.

Other stocks fared better, with eBay rising 0.4% after the online marketplace raised its profit outlook and notched better-than-expected quarterly results.

Meanwhile, energy shares fell, following oil prices lower.

Crude began the trading session slightly higher but declined later in the day as investors focused on a jump in fuel stockpiles that came out in a government report Wednesday. Data showed that gasoline inventories rose by 3.6 million barrels, setting off worries about weakening demand for the fuel.

"The counter-seasonal gasoline build is especially concerning," said analysts at Houston-based Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co., which also noted that gasoline exports were muted versus last year.

West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for oil, fell 2.4% to $55.44 a barrel. Oil prices were down even after Iran's Revolutionary Guard said that the country's forces seized a foreign tanker, a sign that continued geopolitical tensions in the Middle East could disrupt the flow of crude.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.2%, weighed down by declines among shares of technology and oil-and-gas companies.

While the European economy is doing well, "it's more about downside risk coming from trade wars combined with the everlasting Brexit risk," said Jorge Garyao, global head of inflation strategy at Société Générale. The trade tensions that are currently focused on U.S.-China "could easily move into the eurozone," he said.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 1%, notching its third straight session of declines.

Progress toward a trade deal has stalled while the Trump administration determines how to address Beijing's demands that it eases restrictions on Huawei Technologies, people familiar with the talks told The Wall Street Journal. No face-to-face meetings have taken place or been scheduled since President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China met last month in Japan and agreed to resume talks.

Republican senators also are planning on introducing a bill that would restrict Huawei from buying and selling U.S. patents, according to draft text reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

"Markets don't seem to be taking the comments on trade tensions very well," said Fritz Louw, a currency analyst for Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. He added that investors are likely to see several days of volatility as they await progress in talks between China and the U.S.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 2%, posting its biggest one-day decline since March, after data showed exports tumbled for the seventh straight month in June because of a sharp drop in shipments of chip-making tools and automobile parts to China.

U.S. Treasurys strengthened, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. note falling to 2.059% from 2.102% Wednesday.

Yields, which fall as bond prices rise, tend to retreat when investors are feeling more pessimistic about the economic outlook.

--Dan Molinski, Anna Isaac and Caitlin Ostroff contributed to this article.

Write to Lauren Almeida at lauren.almeida@wsj.com and Akane Otani at akane.otani@wsj.com

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
CHINA-SHANGHAI COMP 2.10% 2883.1 End-of-day quote.15.42%
DJ INDUSTRIAL 0.96% 26135.79 Delayed Quote.12.04%
NASDAQ 100 1.52% 7719.323313 Delayed Quote.20.13%
NASDAQ COMP. 1.35% 8002.812313 Delayed Quote.19.00%
NIKKEI 225 0.71% 20563.16 Real-time Quote.2.02%
S&P 500 1.21% 2923.65 Delayed Quote.15.23%
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