Stocks move "sideways"
Friday, December 10, 2021 12:15 PM

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In New York, equities wavered on either side of breakeven Friday as investors responded to a surprise drop in the U.S. trade gap, while China announced another move aimed at cooling its red-hot economy.

The Dow Jones Industrials remained ahead, but a mere 4.65 points midday to 11,385.60

The S&P 500 moved up 2.08 points to 1,235.08. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 5.49 points to 2,622.85.

The modest advance came after government data showed that the U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in October, reaching its lowest level in nine months. A separate report on consumer sentiment also came in better than expected.

The trade data suggests that U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter might be stronger than expected, according to some experts.

But gains were tempered by news that China's central bank further hiked its reserve requirement ratio for banks. The move was part of an effort to cool inflation and avoid an economic crash landing, officials said.

It also came after government data showed that China's trade surplus fell 16% in November, as exports surged 35% from the prior month.

The S&P 500 is shaking up the contents of its broad-market index. F5 Networks Inc., Netflix Inc., and Newfield Exploration Co. will replace The New York Times Co., Office Depot Inc. and Eastman Kodak Co. Cablevision Systems Corp. is taking the place of King Pharmaceuticals Inc., but only because King Pharmaceuticals has agreed to be acquired by Pfizer

Johnson & Johnson's McNeil division late Thursday announced a recall of more than 13 million packages of various Rolaids medicines, following consumer complaints of foreign materials -- including metal and wood particles. Shares of Johnson & Johnson were little changed.

Green Mountain Coffee reported fourth-quarter net income of $27 million U.S., or 20 cents U.S. per share, in line with expectations. But shares fell 10% as investors responded to the company's outlook and decision to no longer provide specific guidance about its K-Dup sales.

Community Health Systems, Inc. announced Thursday that it has made an offer to acquire smaller rival Tenet Healthcare Corporation for $6 U.S. per share, a premium of 40% over Tenet's closing stock price Thursday. An initial offer to Tenet was rejected and this is Community Health Systems' second attempt. Shares of Community Health Systems fell 4%, while shares of Tenet Healthcare surged 49% in early trading.

Earlier in the week, investors cheered as Washington appeared close to reaching a compromise deal to extend Bush-era tax cuts for another two years. But House Democrats voted Thursday against considering the tax package, which would also provided for extended unemployment benefits and a break in payroll taxes.

Investors are mostly confident that some tax rate compromise will be passed.

Economically speaking, the U.S. trade gap narrowed by nearly $6 billion U.S. in October to $38.7 billion U.S., the Commerce Department said. The report was a surprise, as economists had expected the trade gap to have widened to $44.5 billion U.S. in October from $44 billion U.S. the previous month.

The decline brought the U.S. trade deficit to a nine-month low, as exports jumped 3.2% to $158.7 billion U.S., the highest since August 2008, and imports fell 0.5% to $197.4 billion U.S.

The University of Michigan/Reuters index of consumer confidence for early December rose to 74.2 from 71.6 last month. Economists had expected a more modest increase to 72.5, according to consensus estimates from

The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury dipped, raising the yield to 3.26% from Thursday's 3.22%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil stepped back 67 cents a barrel to $87.70 U.S.

The February bullion contract in New York was down $11.90 to $1,380.90 U.S. an ounce.

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(Source: Quotemedia)


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