The broad index traded 0.2% lower after rising as much as 0.36% earlier in the day. The Nasdaq Composite erased a 0.4% gain to trade 0.6% lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded around the flatline after climbing 103 points.
Alphabet shares fell 1% on news that 50 attorneys general are joining an antitrust probe against Google. Microsoft shares traded 1.7% lower. The S&P 500 tech sector fell 1.2%.
Still, the major indexes remained within striking distance of their record highs set in July. The S&P 500 was about 1.6% from its record high set in late July entering the session. The Dow and Nasdaq Composite entered the session more than 2% from their all-time highs
Stocks initially rose on a Politico report from Friday that said China offered last week to increase purchases of U.S. agricultural products if the U.S. eased restrictions on telecom giant Huawei. China’s offer could also be contingent on the U.S. delaying higher tariffs on about $250 billion worth of Chinese imports, the report said.
“It seems like the tone on trade has gotten better,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities. “That’s the biggest driver.”
“As long as we don’t have another tweetstorm around trade, I think the market can stay in the upper end of this range,” he said.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday morning that China and the U.S. have a “conceptual agreement” on enforcement mechanisms around intellectual property theft, one of the more contentious negotiation points between the two countries.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
New data out of China showed that exports unexpectedly fell in August with a large contraction for shipments to the U.S. The drop indicates further weakness in the world’s second largest economy and puts further pressure on Chinese lawmakers to announce new economic stimulus.
“While trade talks are certainly a positive in hopes to secure a trade deal and the effort put forth by both parties to meet should go a long way towards helping alleviate some of the poor sentiment of late, many of the Technical reasons had been in place starting early last week,” Mark Newton, managing member at Newton Advisors, said in a note. He highlighted improving breadth in the market and outperformance from tech shares, among other factors.
J.P. Morgan Chase climbed 2.1%. Citigroup advanced 3.1% while Bank of America gained 2.6%. The gains in bank stocks come as Treasury yield traded higher. The benchmark 10-year rate traded at 1.59% while the 2-year yield rose to 1.57%.
AT&T shares rose 4.3% after Elliott Management revealed a $3.2 billion stake in the telecom giant. In a letter to shareholders, Elliott said AT&T can “improve its business and realize a historic increase in value.”