Trader Sal Suarino works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. Stocks are opening mixed on Wall Street following news reports that US President Donald Trump might delay a tariff hike on Chinese goods set to go into effect this weekend. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

US stocks edge higher as Wall Street watches for trade news

December 11, 2019 - 11:07 am

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks edged mostly higher in morning trading Wednesday as investors watch closely for developments on trade and await the Federal Reserve’s latest announcement on interest rate policy.

Wall Street is hoping for enough progress on trade negotiations this week to avoid a new round of tariffs on Chinese goods that include phones, laptops and other popular products. The new tariffs are scheduled to take effect Sunday and would mark an escalation in the trade war as the world's two largest economies continue pushing for a deal.

Reports have suggested that the new tariffs could be delayed. Tension over the next move has made for choppy trading this week that has pushed the major indexes lower.

Health care and technology companies led the gains. Vertex Pharmaceuticals rose 1.6% and Micron climbed 3.1%.

Real estate and energy companies lagged the market. The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 1.81% from 1.83% late Tuesday.

Some companies were making big moves after releasing earnings reports. Ollie’s Bargain Outlet surged 17.2% after reporting surprisingly good third-quarter profit and revenue. GameStop plunged 13.6% after issuing a surprising loss and cutting its profit forecast.

Boeing shed 2.4%. Home Depot slipped 2% after giving investors a weak sales forecast.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 0.1% as of 11 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 64 points, or 0.2%, to 27,816. The Nasdaq rose 0.1%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks fell 0.3% More stocks rose than fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

European and Asian markets were mixed.

FED WATCH: The Federal Reserve is set to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged Wednesday and will likely signal that it expects rates to remain low well into next year despite a robust job market. The central bank reversed course in 2019 and cut rates three times to help support an economy threatened by trade disputes and slower growth. Many economists have said they think sluggish growth will even compel the Fed to cut rates at least once in 2020.

LOW GAS: Chevron fell 0.6% after the energy company warned investors about a potential charge of up to $11 billion because of lower long-term prices for oil and natural gas. The huge fourth-quarter write-down underscores the challenge posed by rising production that has prevented energy prices from increasing sharply during a time of increasing global demand.

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