US stocks flat, amid trade deal doubts

By Caroline Valetkevitch

US stocks have closed flat after President Donald Trump said he has not agreed to a rollback of US tariffs sought by China, fuelling doubts about the progress of trade talks between the two countries.

Trump, in remarks to reporters at the White House, poured cold water on the idea of rolling back the tariffs, something that he said Beijing would like him to do. On Thursday, officials from both countries said that the United States and China had agreed to such a deal.

"Markets are getting tired" of the back-and-forth on the trade front, said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Investment Management in Chicago. "It's gone from the deal is close, to no, it's not, and we've been through this before."

Helping to boost the S&P 500, Walt Disney gained 3.6 per cent a day after it reported quarterly results that showed it spent less than it had projected on its online streaming service, Disney+. Disney's popular theme parks and a remake of "The Lion King" lifted earnings.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 6.44 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 27,681.24, the S&P 500 gained 7.90 points, or 0.26 per cent, to 3,093.08, and the Nasdaq Composite added 40.80 points, or 0.48 per cent, to 8,475.31.

Also on Friday, shares of Gap Inc fell 7 per cent after the apparel retailer said Chief Executive Officer Art Peck would leave the company, a surprise exit in the middle of a restructuring. Gap also slashed its full-year earnings forecast.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.04-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.09-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 23 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 68 new highs and 80 new lows.