Stocks edge higher as trade enthusiasm wanes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks managed modest gains on Tuesday after holding near the unchanged mark for much of the session as enthusiasm over the U.S.-China trade truce faded after the United States threatened tariffs on additional European goods.

Washington’s proposed tariffs on $4 billion worth of European Union goods in an extended dispute over aircraft subsidies came just as trade tensions with China seemed to be easing.

Still, stocks have rallied to push the S&P 500 to a record for a second straight session in the wake of the U.S. trade truce with China. The benchmark index finished Monday’s session well off its highs, however, as investors questioned the lack of details in the agreement.

The S&P 500 had rallied nearly 7% in June on hopes the two largest economies in the world would find a way to end their trade war.

With U.S. and global economic data showing signs of slowing, the focus for investors will now turn to monetary policy and the upcoming earnings season.

“We’ve got a wait and see on the trade deal, a wait and see on the Fed, a wait and see on earnings and all of that is in front of us by at least two weeks,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

“I am not surprised at all to see this market shift into sideways action.”

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 5, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 69.25 points, or 0.26%, to 26,786.68, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 8.65 points, or 0.29%, to 2,972.98 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 17.93 points, or 0.22%, to 8,109.09.

The softening data triggered a drop of about 3% in crude oil prices despite an agreement among oil producers to extend supply cuts and pushed the energy sector .SPNY down 1.74%, the biggest drag on markets. The defensive real estate .SPLRCR, up 1.82% and utilities .SPLRCU, up 1.24% sectors were the best performers on the session.

Oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp XOM.N and Chevron Corp CVX.N declined more than 1% each, while Apache Corp APA.N slumped more than 6%.

Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, a Federal Reserve policymaker, on Tuesday expressed skepticism that a U.S. interest rate cut is the right move until there are more signs the economy is moving to a truly weaker path.

Market participants still expect the Fed to cut interest rates at its July 30-31 policy meeting, despite the latest developments in trade talks.

Automatic Data Processing ADP.O lost 2.66%, pressuring the tech-heavy Nasdaq, after market sources said brokerage Jefferies is re-offering 8 million of the company's shares at a discount.

L3Harris Technologies LHX.N gained 4.28%, making it the best performer on the S&P 500, after Jefferies added the defense contractor to its top picks for aerospace and defense electronics for the second half of 2019.

Investors are now awaiting the monthly jobs report on Friday, which is expected to show the private sector added 160,000 jobs in June, after May’s sharp slowdown in jobs growth.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.24-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.30-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 41 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 65 new highs and 55 new lows.

About 6.36 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, compared with the 7.02 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Cynthia Osterman