Stocks rose Thursday, as high-level trade negotiations between the U.S. and China kick off.
Here’s where the markets settled by the end of regular trading Thursday:
S&P 500 (^GSPC): +0.64%, or 18.73 points
Dow (^DJI): +0.57%, or 150.66 points
Nasdaq (^IXIC): +0.60%, or 47.04 points
Crude oil (CL=F): +2.13% to $53.71 per barrel
Gold (GC=F): -0.97% to $1,498.20 per ounce
Wednesday afternoon, Reuters reported that China lowered its expectation for significant trade deal progress this week. This new sentiment rose from China’s surprise and anger on the heels of a decision by the U.S. to add 28 Chinese organizations to its blacklist Monday evening for alleged human rights violations in China’s Xinjiang region. The Trump administration also implemented travel bans on Chinese officials tied to the alleged human rights abuses Tuesday afternoon.
Then on Wednesday evening, a report from the South China Morning Post (SCMP) said that deputy-level trade talks earlier this week in Washington led to no progress on the trade deal ahead of the high-level talks set to start Thursday. The news sent stock futures tumbling overnight. The SCMP said the Chinese refused to discuss the issue of forced tech transfers. The sources claimed that the Chinese delegation, including Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, was planning on cutting the trade talks short by leaving on Friday instead of the originally planned Saturday.
Trade remains the focal point among investors. If no progress is made this week following the high-level discussions, the U.S. tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports will increase to 30% from 25% on October 15.
Previous reports this week indicated that China is at least looking to reach a partial trade deal with the U.S., according to Bloomberg. One official with direct knowledge of the negotiations said that China would be open to a partial deal as long as no additional tariffs are slapped onto Chinese goods. The official also said that China would be willing to make non-core concessions such as purchasing agricultural products but would refrain from conceding on major sticking points.
STOCKS: Delta Air Lines sinks on earnings; PG&E bankruptcy drama; Bed Bath & Beyond names new CEO
Delta Air Lines (DAL) shares fell Thursday after the company reported third-quarter earnings that beat expectations and revenue that was in line with Wall Street estimates. Delta reported adjusted earnings of $2.32 per share on $12.6 billion in revenue. However, the airline announced that it expects fourth-quarter earnings per share between $1.20 to $1.50, weaker than expectations for $1.51 per share. CEO Ed Bastian told CNBC in an interview that the airline would be expanding its operations and plans on hiring 6,000 people this year and will hire about the same amount next year. The expansion will include pilots, flight attendants and ground staff, according to Bastian.
Utility giant PG&E (PCG) stock tanked Thursday, a judge ruled that PG&E no longer had sole rights to determine the terms of its reorganization plan. This opens the door for hedge funds including Elliott Management to propose a rival plan. The court drama comes as the company’s planned power outages continued. In a multi-phase process, PG&E started shutting down electricity to residents in the Northern and Central California regions in an attempt to prevent additional mass fires. A total of 800,000 homes will be affected in the biggest planned blackout to date. The company was forced into bankruptcy after several devastating California wildfires ravaged the region and killed dozens.
Struggling retailer Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) finally has a new CEO. Mark Tritton, who is currently Target’s (TGT) chief merchandising officer, will start in November, according to the company. Bed Bath & Beyond has had a rough couple of years, as the stock tumbled more than 50% over the past two years, while the broader market rose 19% in the same time period. Recently, Bed Bath & Beyond came under activist investor pressure and announced a board overhaul. Despite the company’s efforts to please investors, it hasn’t been able to turnaround its business with much success yet. Investors are hoping that Tritton, who is seen as a critical part of Target’s turnaround, will be able to bring life back to Bed Bath & Beyond. Shares jumped more than 20% on the announcement.
Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.
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