Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished lower Thursday. Stocks were higher earlier in the session after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Washington and Beijing have "pretty much agreed on an enforcement mechanism" for when a trade deal is struck.
  • Walt Disney (DIS - Get Report) plans to reveal details about its Disney+ direct to consumer streaming service Thursday afternoon.
  • Tesla (TSLA - Get Report)  shares fell following conflicting reports that Panasonic is reviewing its investment in battery production in Japan with the electric carmaker.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks ended mixed Thursday as investors weighed signs of progress in the U.S.-China trade talks and unemployment data against the backdrop of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee's minutes from its March meeting and ahead of the start of earnings season.
 
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 14 points, or 0.05%, to 26,143, the S&P 500 was unchanged and the Nasdaq dipped 0.21%.
 
In trade news, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Washington and Beijing have "pretty much agreed on an enforcement mechanism" for when a trade deal is struck.

"We are hopeful we can do this quickly, but we are not going to set an arbitrary deadline," Mnuchin said. "If we can complete this agreement, this will be the most significant changes to the economic relationship between the U.S. and China in really the last 40 years."

The Wall Street Journal also reported that China agreed to open its cloud-computing sector to foreign companies in an attempt to sweeten a deal with the U.S.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 196,000 for the week ended April 6, the lowest level since early October 1969, the Labor Department said.

Reports of financial results for the first quarter get underway Friday with numbers due from banking heavyweights JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report) and Wells Fargo (WFC - Get Report) .

The minutes to the Fed meeting in March were released on Wednesday and showed that most central bank officials believe the current pace of U.S. economic expansion warrants leaving interest rates at their current levels for the rest of this year. However, several officials said the Fed's "patient" approach to monetary policy "would need to be reviewed regularly as the economic outlook and uncertainties surrounding the outlook evolve. 

Shares of electric car and battery maker Tesla ( TSLA - Get Report)  declined 2.8% to $268.42  following conflicting reports that Panasonic is reviewing its investment in battery production in Japan with the company. Japanese financial daily Nikkei reported that financial issues spurred by slowing demand and sales have led Tesla and Panasonic to re-examine their plans to expand the capacity of Gigafactory 1 by another 50% next year. However, Panasonic shortly after released a statement saying it was studying further investment in its joint battery production venture with Tesla.
 
Walt Disney ( DIS - Get Report) plans to reveal details about its Disney+ direct to consumer (DTC) streaming service at its annual Investor Day later Thursday. Disney is hoping to compete with market leader Netflix ( NFLX - Get Report) , which gets significantly higher multiples for its stock on the expectation of continued rapid growth in subscribers and revenues. Disney shares dipped slightly to $116.63.

Amazon.com (AMZN - Get Report) and Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) are the last two companies competing to provide cloud computing services to the Pentagon, according to multiple press reports that cited Defense Department sources. It's a deal that could be worth up to $10 billion over a decade-long contract, which would provide Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud, or JEDI. Shares of Amazon were off slightly to $1,844.07, while Microsoft rose modestly to $120.33.

Meanwhile, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos challenged his top competitors to match the online retailing giant's employee benefits and $15 an hour minimum wage -- or even beat it. Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour for all full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees across the U.S. in October.

In response, CNBC reported that Dan Bartlett, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Walmart (WMT - Get Report) , tweeted, "Hey retail competitors out there (you know who you are) how about paying your taxes?" Barlett shared a link to a news story about Amazon paying no federal taxes on more than $11 billion in profits last year.

Walmart said in January it would raise its starting pay to $11 an hour for all of its 1.5 million employees in the U.S., while Target (TGT - Get Report) raised its starting minimum wage to $12 an hour last year with plans to raise it to $15 an hour by 2020.

Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY - Get Report) fell 8.8% to $17.71 despite reporting fourth-quarter earnings results that exceeded analyst expectations. The retailer, however, posted its first fiscal-year loss.

Amazon, Microsoft, JPMorgan, and Disney are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells the stocks? Learn more now.