We enter earnings season on a positive note. Wall Street advanced for the second week in a row, with the Nasdaq (+1.8%) touching a new record and the S&P 500 (+1.5%) hitting its best level since the big drop in early February. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (+2.3%) outperformed its peers, returning to positive territory for the year, but the small-cap Russell 2000 (-0.4%) struggled.
Stocks started the week off strong, rallying on Monday and Tuesday, but sold off on Wednesday after the White House escalated its ongoing trade dispute with Beijing, publishing a new list of tariffs. This round of duties is the largest yet, calling for a 10% tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, but it won’t be official for at least two months. As it did with earlier tariffs, China promised to retaliate.
Meanwhile, NATO leaders held a two-day summit in Brussels this week. President Trump dominated the headlines, criticizing Germany for approving a major gas deal with Russia and taking a hard stance on increased military spending. Member states recommitted to a military spending target of 2% of GDP by 2024, prompting Mr. Trump to verbally confirm his commitment to the alliance.
The U.S. president then jetted to the UK for a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May. Before the meeting, Mr. Trump suggested that Ms. May’s Brexit plan may prevent the U.S. from entering a bilateral trade deal with the UK, but he walked back those comments in a later press conference, reaffirming the leaders’ “special relationship.”
Back on the home front, West Texas Intermediate crude futures tumbled from a three-and-a-half year high on Wednesday, plunging 5.0% in their worst daily performance in over a year. Investors shrugged off a bullish inventory report – which showed a huge drop of 12.6 million barrels for the week ended July 6 – and instead focused on resurgent Libyan supply and increased June output for Saudi Arabia.
In corporate news, big banks JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Citigroup (C), and Wells Fargo (WFC) unofficially kicked off the second quarter earnings season on Friday with mixed results; JPMorgan and Citigroup beat earnings estimates, but Wells Fargo missed. The financial sector lost 0.5% on Friday, but still finished the week with a gain of 1.1%.
Elsewhere, 21st Century Fox (FOXA) lost 4.0% on Wednesday following reports that Comcast (CMCSA) may forego countering Disney’s (DIS) offer for Fox’s entertainment assets and focus on upping its bid for British media company Sky instead; Broadcom(AVGO) tumbled 13.7% on Thursday after agreeing to acquire software company CA Tech (CA) for approximately $18.9 billion in cash; and AT&T (T) lost 1.7% on Friday after the Department of Justice appealed the company’s acquisition of Time Warner.
Source: Briefing Investor