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U.S. Stocks Open Lower on Trade, Growth Pessimism

Investing.com -- U.S. stocks opened the week in subdued mood, falling around 0.3% on a combination of pessimism about the forthcoming round of high-level trade talks between the U.S. and China and slightly tempered optimism about monetary support from the Federal Reserve.

After early trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 109 points or 0.4%, while the S&P 500 was down 11 points, also a decline of 0.4%. The Nasdaq 100 fell by a slightly gentler 0.3%.

A weekend report from Bloomberg suggesting that the two sides are far away from resolving their trade dispute has hit sentiment, given the role played by trade uncertainty in slowing down the global economy.

“A U.S. recession remains unlikely, as manufacturing only accounts for around 10% of the economy and sector sentiment is still in expansion territory, but we think it is unlikely stocks will move much higher from here without better economic data or a ceasefire in the trade situation,” said UBS Global Wealth Management chief investment officer Mark Haefele in a weekly preview.

Market participants appeared unwilling to make big new bets ahead of the talks on Thursday, and ahead of the start of an earnings season where S&P 500 companies are expected to report a year-on-year decline in profits. There had been similar fears about the second quarter which ended, however, with the majority of companies faring better than expected.

Among individual stocks, General Electric (NYSE:GE) lost early momentum to trade only 0.1% higher after it announced a freeze to its U.S. pension plan, affecting 20,000 employees. It said the move would cut the group’s pension deficit by between $5 billion and $8 billion, and cut net debt by up to $6 billion.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) fell 1.0% as its strike entered a fourth week. At the weekend, the UAW said negotiations had taken “a turn for the worse” due to what it said was management’s failure to provide job guarantees for U.S. workers. Uber Technologies (NYSE:UBER) rose 1.5% after analysts at Citigroup (NYSE:C) upheld their price target of $45 for the stock. Its decline since IPO means that that’s now a ‘buy’ at Citi.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) was 1.2% higher after announcing it would buy back $3 billion of stock next year. It also raised its quarterly dividend by over one-third to 42 cents, citing strong cash flow.

Elsewhere, the Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, was effectively unchanged from late Thursday at 98.482, while Gold Futures were down 0.4% at $1,507.15 a troy ounce. Crude Oil futures were 1.3% higher at $53.47 a barrel.

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