The tech-laden Nasdaq stayed in the green and the S&P 500 swung between gains and losses while the Dow Jones Industrial Average continued to trade in the red in afternoon trade as weak retail figures sparked worries about earnings and further rate hikes.
Casting a pall over markets were retail sales, which dropped 1.2% in December, notching their largest push downwards since September of 2009 when the economy was coming out of a recession. The data fell short of the estimates of analysts who had predicted retail sales would pick up 0.2%.
High on the list of laggards was The Coca-Cola Co (NYSE:KO), which shed 7.6% to $46.02. The world’s biggest beverage company projects a slowdown in sales this year due to diminishing demand for sodas in some parts of the world.
Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), meanwhile, managed to pare its decline from the morning when it was hit by news of the retail slowdown. Its shares gained some ground, but were still down 0.6% at $1,629.52 after the e-commerce giant pulled out of its plan for a Long Island City headquarters in the borough of Queens.
The S&P 500, meanwhile, drifted into positive territory, adding 0.36 points to 2,753, pushed up by Marathon Oil Corp, Vulcan Materials Co and Iqvia Holdings Inc.
Small cap stocks also stayed in the green, with the Russell 2000 index climbing by 5 points to 1,548.
10:00 AM: Wall Street mixed after dramatic fall in US retail sales
Wall Street opened lower Thursday after investors saw the steepest decline in US retail sales since December 2009. It pushed investors into the safety of government bonds.
The drop in retail spending in the world's largest economy heightened investor fears of a global slowdown.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 91.21 points, or 0.36% to 25,452.06, led lower by Goldman Sachs, Coca-Cola and Travelers Companies.
The Nasdaq Composite index was the only major index in the green. Cisco Systems, Activision Blizzard Inc, Take-Two Interactive Software, and Micron Technology provided the main boosts to the tech-laden Nasdaq.
Elsewhere, the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks was stuck in the red hovering at 1,542.55.
7:15 am: Wall Street shares set for good start as trade talk optimism continues to boost markets
Wall Street shares are set to continue the ascent, despite futures pointing lower after hours, as the third round of trade talks between the US and China in Beijing take place.
This seems to have boosted investor sentiment this week, not least as President Donald Trump has said he would be willing to extend the March 1 deadline for a truce, but not everyone thinks the story is so simple.
James Hughes, market analyst at Axitrader, said: "The optimism on Wall Street seems to be running thin on the ground, despite reports emerging that Donald Trump is considering pushing back the March 2nd tariff increases on Chinese imports by as much as two months if this week’s talks continue to go well. This news has helped reverse yesterday’s post-market sell-off for US index futures, but given the significance of the call, this may have the potential to deliver further gains in the near term."
The stakes couldn't be higher for the U.S.-China trade talks. https://t.co/h5mj42tWIF— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) 14 February 2019
Meanwhile, in data this morning, traders are awaiting a US retail sales report for December.
On Wednesday on Wall Street, the Dow added over 117 at 25,543; the Nasdaq added nearly six points at 7,420 and the S&P 500 added around eight points to 2,753.
In futures trade today, the Dow Jones is ahead by 96 points; the Nasdaq is up by around 27 and S&P500 futures are up 8.5.
In Toronto, the TSX index closed around 15 points lower at 15,626, while the venture exchange also finished a smidge lower (two points).
In Asia overnight, the mood was lower, with the Nikkei 225 shedding nearly five points, while the ShangCompositesite Index lost around one point at 2,719.
In London, the FTSE 100 is up by nearly 24 points ahead of another vote in Parliament tonight over Brexit, while the German DAX and French CAC 40 are also up.