Stocks: Another Act of 'Waiting for China' Leaves S&P Flat

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© Reuters. © Reuters. – Investors spent Thursday hoping for a catalyst to push stocks higher – and didn’t get one.

While the S&P 500 did reach a new closing high at just under 3,097, it came with no drama. The other major indexes struggled as well.

The rose 2.6 points, or 0.08%. The was very nearly flat for the second time in three days. It was off 1.6 points or 0.01%. On Tuesday, the index finished unchanged on the day, its first unchanged day since April 24, 2014.

The and the indexes fell 0.04% and 0.02%, respectively.

The catalyst investors, traders and their computers want is a trade deal with China. It didn’t happen Thursday. And no one in the Trump Administration or the government of Xi Jinping in China was signaling any clarity on when an agreement will come.

The critical issues right now appear to be how much China will spend on U.S. farm products and when and how tariffs imposed earlier this year and possibly boosted next month will be rescinded.

Instead, investors had to deal with disappointing guidance from Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:) and a downgrade on Apple (NASDAQ:), whose stock hit an all-time intraday high of $264.68 before pulling back. Cisco, down 7.3%, was the weakest performer in the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100.

Boeing (NYSE:) moved 1.36% higher, good for nearly 34 Dow points on an upgrade from Vertical Research Partners analyst Robert Stallard. Stallard raised his price target on the stock to $400. But there was a caveat: The 737 Max has to start flying again.

After the close, shares of RH (NYSE:), the corporate name of home-furnishings retailer Restoration Hardware, jumped 6.7% after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:) disclosed it has bought 1.2 million shares in the company. Berkshire Hathaway also bought nearly 7.5 million shares of Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:). Occidental shares rose 1.6% after hours.

Boeing shares are off 3.4% this quarter, but are still up nearly 14% on the year.

Walmart (NYSE:) hit an all-time high after fiscal third-quarter results were stronger than expected, but the shares fell back 0.3% on apparent profit-taking.

Seven of 11 S&P 500 sectors were higher, led by real estate and materials stocks, reflecting lower interest rates. The fell to 1.819% from Wednesday’s 1.869%.

jumped $10.10 to $1,473.40 an ounce in New York, attracting investor capital looking for safe havens.

Energy was the weakest sector, reflecting lower oil prices.

crude fell 35 cents to $56.77 a barrel. crude, the global benchmark, was off 9 cents to $62.28. Prices dropped after the reported a larger-than-expected gain in domestic oil stocks.

Software company DXC Technology (NYSE:), data-storage maker NetApp (NASDAQ:), fertilizer maker Mosaic (NYSE:) and personal computer maker HP (NYSE:) were among the top S&P 500 stocks.

Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:), food giant Kraft Heinz (NASDAQ:), utility giant CenterPoint Energy (NYSE:) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:) were among the biggest S&P 500 laggards.

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