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Stocks ended Friday’s trading session little changed, closing out a volatile August in which the U.S.-China trade war whipsawed markets.
After opening higher across the board, stocks gave up most of their early gains during the last trading day of the month, and ahead of the long holiday weekend. For major indices, Aug. is the first month since May that stocks have ended in the red, and only the second time this year.
Here’s where the main market benchmarks settled as of 4 p.m. ET:
S&P 500 (^GSPC): +0.06%, or 1.88 points
Dow (^DJI): +0.16%, or 41.03 points
Nasdaq (^IXIC) -0.13%, or 10.51 points
Crude oil (CL=F): -2.89% or $55.07
10-year Treasury yield (^TNX): -0.01 bps to 1.506%
August has been a rollercoaster for investors, as trade tensions and fears of a recession injected uncertainty into global markets.
After much back and forth between the U.S. and China, the two nations expressed optimism and a willingness to come to a trade deal on Thursday.Yet on Sunday, the U.S. is still scheduled to slap 15% tariffs on select Chinese goods in another escalation of the more than year-long trade war.
Even as President Donald Trump said he would delay key consumer items from the list being affected this weekend, some apparel and household goods will still be impacted.
So far this month, the S&P 500 and Dow tumbled nearly 2%, while the Nasdaq sank by around 2%. Meanwhile, investors continued to flock toward safe haven assets such as gold. The precious metal jumped 8% in August.
STOCKS: Ulta, Campbell Soup report earnings; China exempts Tesla models from purchase tax
Beauty retailer Ulta (ULTA) shares tanked nearly 30% Friday on the heels of disappointing same-stores sales growth during its second quarter. Ulta also slashed its full-year guidance, as the company predicts a slowdown due to a lack of new product developments in the beauty space and thus less customer enthusiasm to purchase new makeup. Rivals such as Estee Lauder (EL) and Revlon (REV) have also had trouble in its makeup business. Revlon is in the process of seeking a buyer to help turnaround the struggling company.
Campbell Soup (CPB) shares soared 5% following its earnings announcement ahead of the opening bell Friday. The consumer staples giant reported sales that crushed Wall Street estimates. U.S. soup sales rose 3% during the quarter, and gains in condensed and ready-to-serve soup were offset by declines in broth. Snack sales were also strong and grew 3%. Campbell Soup stock rose 35% this year and have outperformed the broader market.
Meanwhile, Tesla (TSLA) stock jumped nearly 2% in early trade after China said it would exempt the automakers vehicles from a 10% Chinese auto purchase tax. The exemption would impact all Tesla models sold in China and follows Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s visit to the country. Tesla currently imports all of the models it sells in China but plans to open a factory near Shanghai to produce Model 3 vehicles.
ECON: U.S. consumer is still strong
Despite the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, U.S. consumers prove their resilience. According to new data released by the Commerce Department Friday morning, consumer spending in July rose 0.6%, exceeding economist expectations for a 0.5% increase. Consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. economic output.
“With upward revisions to previous months, [this] suggests that real consumption is set for stronger growth in the third quarter than we had previously anticipated,” Capital Economics wrote in a note to clients Friday. “Even allowing for more modest gains in August and September, real consumption growth will be between 3.5% and 4.0% annualised. That would represent a slowdown from the rapid 4.7% pace set in the second quarter, but would still be unusually strong by recent standards. As a result, we now expect third-quarter GDP growth to come in at 2.0% annualised, up from our previous estimate of 1.5%.”
Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.
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