Market Outlook – August 22, 2018

U.S. Benchmarks Post Gains, Nears Record


For a fourth session, U.S. stocks closed higher on Tuesday which was highlighted by the S&P 500 Index touching an intraday high of 2,873.23. The broader benchmark added 5.91 points (+0.21%) to finish at 2,862.96. It is now just 0.3% off the record close of 2,872.87 set last January 26.

The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 38.17 points (+0.49%) to 7,859.17 which brings the tech-heavy index 0.9% closer to its record close. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 63.60 points (+0.25%) to end at 25,822.29 and is 3.0% below its own record.

The U.S. stock market is on the verge of marking August 22, Wednesday as the longest bull run in history. However, fresh uncertainty might disrupt the market following the legal developments concerning two former associates of the U.S. President Donald Trump.

U.S.-China Resumes Trade Talks


The mid-level officials from the U.S. and Chinese officials are set to meet on Wednesday to resume trade talks between the two countries. But U.S. President Donald Trump himself is convinced that there would be no real progress.

Nonetheless, the discussions could set a framework for further negotiations. Both countries are preparing to hit each other with new tariffs beginning on Thursday. The two-day meeting will be the first formal trade talks since U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met Chinese economic adviser Liu He in Beijing last June.

Target’s Earnings Beat Wall Street Estimates


The shares of Target Corp. (TGT) went up 4.0% in pre-market trading after the company reported a better-than-expected second quarter results. Analysts had forecasted a 3.99% increase in comparable sales for the quarter but Target presented a better 4.9% rise.

Target said more customers visited its stores and made purchases online. Target earned a profit of $1.47 per share (excluding items) in the quarter ended August 4 which is higher than the average estimate of $1.40 per share. On the revenue side, the actual figure of $17.8 billion beat the average estimate of $17.31 billion.

Lowe’s Trims Profit & Sales Forecast


On Wednesday, Lowe’s Cos Inc. (LOW) lowered its full-year profit and sales forecast. The company had previously forecast full-year total sales to increase at about 5% and same-store sales at about 3.5%. But now, the home improvement chain expects sales to grow at about 4.5% for fiscal 2018 and sales at stores open at least a year at about 3%.

Lowe’s also plans to cut down inventories and sink in money into faster-moving goods to keep sales up in the wake of weakening U.S. homebuilding. LOW fell 2.2% to $97.49 as the retailer missed quarterly estimate for same-store sales in the second quarter.

U.S. homebuilding rebounded less than expected from a nine-month low in July. But the industry will face rough waters ahead due to rising construction costs and labor shortages.

Tech Giants Remove Disinformation Campaigns

Social media giants moved in unison on Tuesday to remove hundreds of accounts tied to an alleged Iranian propaganda operation while Facebook Inc. (FB) also took down another believed to be linked to Russia’s military intelligence services.

Facebook, Twitter Inc. (TWTR) and Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) are under pressure to guard against political interference on their platforms. Their collective move comes as concerns are rising about foreign attempts to disrupt the U.S. midterm elections in November.

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