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US open: Stocks trade mostly higher despite fears of government shutdown

Fri 21 December 2018 13:59 | A A A

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(Sharecast News) - US stocks turned mostly higher at the open on Friday despite worries about a possible government shutdown and slowing global growth.

At 1500 GMT, the Dow Jones Industrial was up 0.46% to 23,963.66, while the S&P 500 was trading 0.29% firmer at 2,474.55. The Nasdaq, however, was down 0.19% at 6,516.28.

Sino-US relations were in focus again after the US Justice Department filed charges overnight accusing two members of a Chinese cyber-espionage group of hacking into dozens of US tech and industry giants.

It has been alleged that the two individuals were operating in conjunction with the Chinese government, although this has been denied by Beijing.

Meanwhile, rising odds of a US government shutdown also weighed on the mood, as Donald Trump and congressional Democrats remained at odds over $5bn of funding for his border wall with Mexico. Trump has said he won't sign the short-term funding bill to avoid a government shutdown because it didn't include any funds for his wall.

Oanda analyst Craig Erlam said: "We've gone from undeterred optimism to widespread pessimism in such a short period of time - as is often the case - and there clearly isn't much appetite just yet to try and catch this particular falling knife. The Trump administration's continued hard-line approach with China isn't helping matters and the prospect of a government shutdown isn't doing the situation much good either."

In corporate news, Nike surged 9.23% in early trade after releasing better-than-expected second-quarter earnings overnight and upping its guidance.

Shopify slipped 0.49% after being upgraded by analysts at DA Davidson, while Amazon ticked ahead 0.46% after announcing it would create 850 new jobs in the state of Mississippi.

Perrigo tumbled 21.38% after disclosing that the Irish government was attempting to collect €1.64bn in back taxes and penalties.

On the oil front, West Texas Intermediate was unchanged at $45.88 a barrel and Brent Crude was 1.20% lower at $53.70.

Elsewhere, the USD was 0.16% stronger against the GBP at 0.7912.

On the data front, the US economy expanded 3.4% year-on-year during the third quarter, a touch slower than estimates as consumer spending and exports were revised lower.

The Department of Commerce revealed that gross domestic product had been revised down from earlier estimates of 3.5% as a result of an even bigger decline in exports, as well as slower consumer spending on non-durable goods.

Meanwhile, orders for durable goods grew just 0.8% in November after a sharp 4.3% decline in the prior month.

The gain was in line with expectations on the Street. Orders for non-defence capital goods excluding aircraft, known as "core capital goods" fell 0.6% last month, while core goods fell 0.1%.

In other news, core PCE rose to 1.9% in November from 1.8% in the prior month and the Michigan consumer sentiment index rose to 98.3.

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