U.S. stocks traded modestly higher Tuesday morning, following a steep selloff Monday, as investors remain focused on the global economic outlook, the U.S.-China trade fight, and growing concerns over the potential for Beijing to crack down on protests in Hong Kong.
How are the major benchmarks performing?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +1.54% rose 48 points, or 0.2%, at 25,951, while the S&P 500 index SPX, +1.49% added 8 points, or 0.3%, to 2,890. The Nasdaq Composite index COMP, +2.00% rose 34 points, or 0.4%, to 7,896.
On Monday, the Dow slumped 389.73 points, or 1.5%, to end at 25,897.71, while the S&P 500 declined 35.56 points, or 1.2%, to finish at 2,883.09. The Nasdaq Composite closed at 7,863.41, a fall of 95.73 points or 1.2%.
What’s driving the market?
Protesters thronged Hong Kong International Airport for a second day in a row Tuesday, clogging the departure area a day after they forced the transport hub to shut down entirely as they called for an independent inquiry into alleged police abuse during this summer’s waves of protests. The number of protesters has fallen from an estimated 2 million who marched on June 16th to 350,000 during the general strike which disrupted transport last week, but the protests have grown more violent.
Hong Kong is not as important for China’s economic growth as it was at the handover from Britain in 1997 when it accounted for 20% of GDP, compared with only 3% now. But Hong Kong hosts the world’s fourth largest stock exchange and cross border banking has doubled in the past decade with much of it for Chinese companies borrowing in U.S. dollars. And about 60% of the $2 trillion of foreign direct investment into China flows through Hong Kong.
Opinion: A Tiananmen ‘solution’ in Hong Kong would destroy its economy
Worries about Hong Kong and other geopolitical concerns, including a plunge by the Argentine Peso USDARS, +6.6376% following a poor showing by pro-business President Mauricio Macri in a primary election on Sunday, were blamed in part for a downbeat start to the week on Wall Street.
“Developments in the financial hub of Hong Kong are adding to an already tense geopolitical picture amid ongoing U.S.-Sino trade tensions,” said Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index in a note. “Investors are once again pulling out of riskier assets such as equities,” while flows into haven assets are on the rise.”
Read: How Hong Kong clashes could wallop the U.S. stock market
See: Argentina fund swoons as Macri suffers primary defeat
Concerns about Hong Kong are adding to doubts on the global economic outlook, which were also reinforced by downbeat data from the eurozone’s largest economy. The ZEW indicator of German economic sentiment fell to -44.1 in August, down from -24.5 in July and marking the lowest reading since December 2011. Economists polled by FactSet had looked for a -28 reading.
“Today’s very poor ZEW readings highlight the continuing uncertainty hanging over the bloc with sentiment indicators so far suggesting that a pickup in growth in H2 2019 is not on the cards,” said Nicola Nobile, lead eurozone economist at Oxford Economics, in a note.
On the U.S. data front, the consumer price index rose 0.3% in July, in line with economists expectations, according to a MarketWatch poll. The core reading, which strips out food and energy costs, also rose 0.3%, faster than the 0.2% expected. The yearly growth in core prices rose from 2.1% to 2.2%, potentially putting a damper on hopes for more aggressive rate cutting policy from the Federal Reserve, which has pointed to subdued inflation as a reason for reducing rates last month.
The National Federation of Independent Business said its Small Business Optimism Index rose 1.4 points in July to 104.7 after slipping in June
How are other markets trading?
European stocks were under pressure for a third straight session Tuesday, with banks again leading decliners. Germany’s DAX DAX, +0.91% index was down 0.9%, while the pan-European Stoxx 600 SXXP, +0.51% fell 0.6%.
Asian markets declined as investors kept an eye on developments in Hong Kong, with the Hang Seng Index HSI, -2.10% falling 2.1%, bringing its August decline to 9%. China’s CSI 300 000300, -0.90% lost 0.9% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 NIK, -1.11% shed 1.1% overnight.
Investors piled into Treasurys on Monday, keeping pressure on yields and flattening the yield curve, a move that underlined worries about the economic outlook. Pressure on rates was also particularly negative for shares of banks, who see lending margins hit.
Safe haven-related flows continued Tuesday, with gold futures GCZ19, -0.61% up around 0.8%, The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, +2.23%, however, stabilized, rising 2 basis points to 1.653%.
The price of crude oil CLU19, +2.89% fell 0.5% to $54.66.
Which stocks are in focus?
Shares of Advance Auto Parts Inc. AAP, -1.49% fell 6.8% early Tuesday, after reporting second-quarter earnings and sales that fell short of expectations and trimmed its full-year outlook, while announcing a new $400 million stock buyback program.
U.S.-listed shares of J.D.com JD, +7.46% rose 5.7% Tuesday, after the China-based e-commerce company reported second-quarter earnings that beat expectations.
Shares of Genworth Financial Inc. GNW, +13.25% rallied 8.6% Tuesday, after the insurer announced an agreement to sell a majority stake in Genworth MI Canada to Brookfield Business Partners LP for about C$2.4 billion ($1.8 billion).
Shares of CIT Group CIT, -2.64% were expected to be in focus after it announced its CIT Bank N.A. subsidiary was in a deal to buy Mutual of Omaha’s savings bank subsidiary, Mutual of Omaha Bank, for $1 billion in cash and stock. The stock fell 3.2% Tuesday.