Stocks - S&P Barely in Red as Trade Blues, Tech Weigh

14/03/2019 19:56:01 Stock Market – The S&P 500 dipped slightly Thursday on trade uncertainty and a fall in tech stocks led by Facebook.

The S&P 500 lost 0.06%, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.16%. But Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.03%.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) came under pressure after The New York Times reported federal prosecutors had launched a probe into data deals the company made with other tech giants.

Losses in tech stocks, however, were offset by rise in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) amid bullish calls from analysts.

S.G. Cowen initiated coverage of Apple with an outperform rating, helping the iPhone maker add to its gains of more than 6% this week.

On the trade front there was little to cheer amid a Bloomberg report that a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, expected to take place at the end of March, could be pushed back to at least April.

Trade-sensitive sectors like materials and industrials ended lower, though the latter was underpinned by a sharp rise in shares of General Electric (NYSE:GE) on upbeat remarks from GE CEO Larry Culp about the conglomerate's struggling power business.

Culp expects the company to generate fiscal 2019 adjusted profit between $0.50 to $0.60 a share and said he expected the power business to be “significantly better but negative” in 2020.

Retailers also weighed on the broader market, falling more than 1% amid a slump in shares of Dollar General (NYSE:DG) on mixed fourth-quarter results.

Cloudera also delivered mixed fourth-quarter earnings, sending its share price tumbling 20%.

Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), meanwhile, posted earnings that beat expectations from Its share rose to near record highs, before giving up gains.

Oracle posted earnings of $0.87 a share on revenues of $9.6 billion.

In other corporate news, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) reportedly was ordered to pay $29 million to a woman who claimed that asbestos in the company’s talcum-powder-based products caused her cancer. Its shares fell 1%.

On the economic front, new home sales fell by more than forecasts in January. But analysts downplayed the weakness, touting the housing market could be set for a turnaround in the coming months thanks to a decline in mortgage rates.

"(H)ousing demand should pick up in coming months in response to the recent decline in mortgage rates, Residential construction will have a more neutral impact on the economy this year, compared with the persistent dragging effect of last year," BMO said in a note.

Top S&P 500 Gainers and Losers Today:

TechnipFMC (NYSE:FTI), Lam Research (NASDAQ:LRCX) and General Electric (NYSE:GE) were among the top S&P 500 gainers for the session.

Dollar General Corporation (NYSE:DG) , Take-Two Interactive Software Inc (NASDAQ:TTWO) and Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR) were among the worst S&P 500 performers of the session.