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Stock Market Mixed, As Trump Sets Midnight Deadline On Tariffs

U.S. stock indexes were mixed in late morning trade Thursday, amid reports that President Trump was poised to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum from Europe, Mexico and Canada.

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The Nasdaq rose 0.4%, while the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.1% and 0.6%, respectively. In the Dow, Procter & Gamble (PG) slid almost 2%, pulling the blue chip stock 22% off its high. (For updates on this story and other market coverage, check IBD’s stock market news today.)

In Paris, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told the French newspaper Le Figaro that an announcement on tariffs would likely come Thursday after the market’s close.

Barring a last-minute agreement, the tariffs are expected to take effect at midnight Thursday. On March 22, Trump exempted a number of countries, including the EU nations, from steel and aluminum tariffs. But the exemptions expire Friday.

Trump Tenacious On Tariffs

Trump has been tenacious on the tariff issue, regularly reviving a mix of threats, complaints and reversals.

The stock market has had trouble making progress since late January when Trump’s protectionist threats first emerged.

Breakouts were sparse Thursday morning. MarketSmith’s pattern-recognition technology identified 10 breakouts in late morning trade. But seven of the 10 stocks were either lowly rated or thinly traded.

Three Exceptions

The three exceptions included payment software provider Square (SQ), which actually cleared a 57.29 buy point Tuesday in light volume. Trade was running about average Thursday.

Upscale kitchenware retailer Williams-Sonoma (WSM) edged above the cup pattern’s left side high but fell pennies shy of a 56.48 buy point. Volume was 30% above average.

Verisk Analytics (VRSK) cleared a weird consolidation that features a price plunge in the middle of the pattern. On Thursday, the stock cleared a 108.68 entry but then reversed back into the consolidation.

In Q1, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) sold more than 80% of its stake in Verisk. The large-cap stock provides data analytics to businesses in the insurance, energy and financial spaces.

Economic Data

The Challenger, Gray and Christmas job cuts report rolled in at 31,517 in May, down almost 13% from the previous month. Job cuts are often lower in the summer months.

The employment situation report for May will be released Friday before the market’s open. Analysts expect nonfarm payrolls to rise to 190,000 about 16% above April’s number.

First-time jobless claims shrank more than 5% to 221,000. The consensus view called for 224,000.

Personal income hit the consensus mark for a 0.3% increase in April. Consumer spending rose from a prior revised 0.5% gain to 0.6%, topping the highest estimate in the range.

The Chicago purchasing managers gauge for May jumped to 62.7, trouncing views for 58.4 and above the highest estimate in the range. The index measures manufacturing and nonmanufacturing conditions in the Chicago area.

Pending home sales for April missed badly. Analysts expected a gain of 0.4%. The figure came in at minus 1.3%, far worse than the most pessimistic estimate.

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