Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished lower Thursday as investors weighed potentially positive news about the U.S.-China trade talks against concerns over possible repercussions should President Trump sign legislation expressing support for protestors in Hong Kong.
  • TD Ameritrade (AMTD) - Get Report surged following a report that discount brokerage rival Charles Schwab (SCHW) - Get Report  was eyeing the company for a takeover.
  • Macy's (M) - Get Report slipped after the retail giant posted stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings but said same-store sales fell notably. It also trimmed its full-year profit guidance. Macy's is Real Money's Stock of the Day.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks ended lower Thursday as investors weighed potentially positive news about the U.S.-China trade talks against concerns over possible repercussions should President Donald Trump sign legislation expressing support for protestors in Hong Kong.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down for the third straight day, ending off 55 points, or 0.20%, to 27,766.29, the S&P 500 was off 0.16% and the Nasdaq was down 0.24%.

3M

(MMM) - Get Report

, Procter & Gamble

(PG) - Get Report

and Visa

(V) - Get Report

were the leading laggards on the Dow.

"Investors are growing increasingly pessimistic about a near-term trade agreement, based on signals from financial markets," LPL Financial said in a newsletter. "Stocks with close ties to China have been strong performers in recent months, but we've observed some weakness in these equities, consistent with headlines that suggest that prospects for a deal by year-end may be waning."

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He reportedly invited U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to Beijing for further negotiations, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The invitation was thought to have been made during a phone call last week. It was not clear whether U.S. negotiators had accepted, but the Journal said U.S. trade officials were willing to meet with their Chinese counterparts. Liu also reportedly said he's "cautiously optimistic" about reaching an interim trade agreement with the U.S.

A new round of U.S. tariffs is scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 15, but the South China Morning Post reported those likely will be postponed.

Separately, President Donald Trump hinted Wednesday he might exempt Apple (AAPL) - Get Report from any new tariffs during a tour of one of the tech giant's facilities in Austin, Texas. Shares were off slightly to $262.01.

The potential thaw in trade negotiations comes at a particularly crucial time for the the world's two largest economies.

The House of Representatives late Wednesday voted 417 to 1 in favor of the "Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act," following its Senate passage the previous day. The legislation, which aims to protect human rights in Hong Kong and which insulates the China-backed territory from tariffs, now goes to the White House for Donald Trump's signature. The White House has signaled that he would sign the measure.

 "Chinese sources agree that the negotiations could be in danger, should the President sign the bill supporting the protesters, which already passed the House, said Gorilla Trades strategist Ken Berman.

Stocks took a pounding on Wednesday following a report that completion of a "phase one" U.S.-China trade pact could be delayed until next year.

In addition, House Democrats and the Trump administration did not come to an agreement on moving forward with President Donald Trump's new North American trade deal during a meeting Thursday, CNBC reported.

TD Ameritrade (AMTD) - Get Report surged 16.9% to $48.38 following a report that discount brokerage rival Charles Schwab (SCHW) - Get Report  was eyeing the company for a takeover. Schwab was up 7.4% to $48.05.

Macy's (M) - Get Report slipped 2.3% to $14.67 after the retail giant posted stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings, but said same store sales fell notably and trimmed its full-year profit guidance. Macy's is Real Money's Stock of the Day.

Applied Materials (AMAT) - Get Report , Lam Research (LRCX) - Get Report and KLA Corp. (KLAC) - Get Report   finished down after UBS analyst Timothy Arcuri downgraded all three to a sell.

Tesla (TSLA) - Get Report rose slightly to $354.83 in anticipation of the debut of its electric pickup truck, which is expected to be unveiled at an event Thursday evening in Los Angeles.

Tiffany & Co.  (TIF) - Get Report  climbed 2.6% to $126.51 following a report that French luxury icon LVMH Moet Hennessy - Louis Vuitton  (LVMUY) has increased its takeover bid for the U.S. jewelry chain. LVMH was off slightly to $87.23.

The Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index in November rose to a seasonally adjusted reading of 10.4 from 5.6 in October, ahead of analysts' expectations of a 7 reading. Any reading above zero indicates improving conditions, but Ian Shepherdson, chief economist with Pantheon Macroeconomics, said "that the details of the survey are much weaker than the headline business activity measure of sentiment."

"Orders, shipments, inventories, employment, the workweek, and delivery times all fell," he said. "As a result, the average of the five subindexes analagous to the composition of the national ISM manufacturing index fell to a nione-month low. Still, it remains consistent, under normal circumstances, with a much stronger ISM index. But circumstances are not normal, and the national index remains under great pressure because of the trade war."

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits were flat at a seasonally adjusted 227,000 for the week ended Nov. 16, the U.S. Labor Department said, the highest level since June 22. Data for the prior week was revised to show 2,000 more claims received than previously reported.

Existing home sales rose 1.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million units last month. September's sales pace was downwardly revised to 5.36 million units, the National Association of Realtors said. Economists had called for existing home sales rising 1.4% to 5.47 million units.

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