S&P notches high by a nose on low-key day for Wall Street

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Stocks barely moved on Thursday but the S&P 500 nudged up to a record close as earnings season winds down.
Traders work before the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - The S&P 500 on Thursday (Nov 14) rose to its second straight record close on an otherwise subdued day for Wall Street marked by concerns about slowing global growth and stalled trade talks.

Markets got encouraging signals from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who in his second day of congressional testimony said he expected America's record economic expansion to continue.

Stocks finished little changed overall.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished a fraction lower at 27,783.12, while the broader S&P 500 added 0.1 per cent at 3,098.15 - marking its sixth new high since the start of November.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq was down less than a tenth of a percentage point, at 8,479.02.

China's Commerce Ministry on Thursday said the lifting of tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump was a "condition" to reaching the preliminary deal announced last month - suggesting a deal is not imminent.

Peter Cardillo of Spartan Capital Securities told AFP the markets needed positive news in the trade talks to continue gains.

"We need to see any new trade developments to resume the rally," he said.

Economic data released Thursday showed further signs of strain in China's economy, with a sharp slowdown in consumer spending and factory production, while investment growth hit a record low as the trade war with the United States takes its toll.

Germany's economy narrowly avoided recession as it eked out 0.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter growth, beating forecasts of a 0.1 per cent contraction but confirming the trade-dependent nation's struggles.

Global retailer and Dow member Walmart finished in the red, shedding 0.3 per cent despite reporting better-than-expected quarterly earnings.

Walmart executives said they are watching the tariff discussions and hoping for a prompt resolution to the dispute.

Networking and telecoms firm Cisco, also a Dow member, plunged 7.3 per cent a day after cutting earnings guidance for its upcoming fiscal quarter.

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