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VOL. 42 | NO. 29 | Friday, July 20, 2018

Stocks waver, dollar slips as traders shrug off trade talk

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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are little changed Friday as traders shrug off the latest trade threats from President Donald Trump and focus on company earnings reports, which contained some better-than-expected results from big names including Microsoft. Bond yields are rising and the dollar is falling.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,802 as of 3:20 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 3 points to 25,061. The Nasdaq composite fell 1 point to 7,824. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dipped 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,699.

Stocks have wobbled this week as investors reacted to solid company results as well as heightened trade tensions. The S&P 500 is up less than 0.1 percent for the week, while the Russell, which is made up of more domestically-oriented companies that could hold up better in a prolonged trade dispute, is up 0.7 percent.

EARNINGS: Microsoft continued to set records after its fiscal fourth-quarter results topped Wall Street forecasts and its cloud computing division continued to grow. The company said it's being helped by its rivalry with Amazon, because some retailers are reluctant to team up with Amazon on cloud computing services while they compete with Amazon in sales. The stock climbed 1.8 percent to $106.31.

General Electric lost 4.4 percent to $13.13 after it said its power business continued to struggle as revenue and orders decreased. GE, which has been selling and splitting off businesses, also cut its forecast for how much cash its businesses will generate.

Elsewhere, industrial conglomerate Honeywell rose 3.7 percent to $153.01 after it raised its forecast for the year. Uniform supplier Cintas gained 5 percent to $203.30.

Shoe maker Skechers plunged after its estimates for the third quarter fell far short of analyst expectations. The company said its U.S. wholesale business and international distributor business both saw their sales drop in the last quarter. The stock sank 21 percent to $26.29.

BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.89 percent from 2.85 percent. That helped banks because bond yields are used to set interest rates on many kinds of loans including mortgages. JPMorgan Chase gained 1.1 percent to $111.11 and Bank of America picked up 1.4 percent to $30.07.

High-dividend stocks like real estate investment trusts and utilities fell as investors shifted their money out of those stocks and into bonds.

CURRENCIES:  The dollar dropped to 111.52 yen from 112.46 yen. The euro rose to $1.1726 from $1.1644.

MORE TARIFF TALK: In a taped interview with the business channel CNBC, Trump said "I'm willing to go to 500," referring roughly to the $505.5 billion in goods the U.S. imported last year from China. Earlier this month the U.S. placed import taxes on $34 billion in goods imported from China and Beijing responded in kind. The Trump administration is considering tariffs on another $200 billion in goods.

The dispute between the world's two largest economies stems from accusations that China steals technology from U.S. companies or forces them to hand over technology to Chinese companies as well as differences over the U.S. trade deficit with China. Investors have worried that the trade war and other disputes involving the U.S. could slow down the global economy.

The U.S. government put tariffs on imported steel, aluminum, washing machines and solar panels this year and is considering taxing auto imports. Representatives of the auto industry asked Congress to oppose that move on Thursday.

YUAN DECLINES: The People's Bank of China weakened the country's currency against the dollar on Friday. If the yuan continues to depreciate, goods exported to China will become more expensive to consumers there. Chinese exports would also be relatively cheaper, possibly balancing out suggested increases in tariffs by the Trump Administration. The yuan has been skidding since February, mostly because of slower economic growth in China and rising interest rates in the U.S.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude added 1.4 percent to $70.46 a barrel in New York and Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 0.7 percent to $73.07 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 1.2 percent to $2.07 a gallon. Heating oil edged up 0.7 percent to $2.10 a gallon. Natural gas lost 0.4 percent to $2.76 per 1,000 cubic feet.

METALS: Gold rose 0.6 percent to $1,231.10 an ounce. Silver gained 1 percent to $15.55 an ounce. Copper jumped 2.2 percent to $2.76 a pound.

OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX lost 1 percent and France's CAC 40 slid 0.3 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 gave up 0.1 percent. South Korea's Kospi added 0.3 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.8 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 percent.

___

Annabelle Liang contributed from Singapore.

AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jay

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