Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

US stocks edge lower as trade deficit hits 10-year peak

  • The S&P 500 sheds 0.2% to 2,785.55, the Nasdaq Composite slips 0.1% to 7,568.43
  • America's trade deficit jumps 12.5% to $621 billion in 2018

NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks were little changed early Wednesday after data showed the largest US trade deficit in a decade and moderating private-sector job growth.

About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down a hair at 25,806.21.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.2% to 2,785.55, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.1% to 7,568.43.

America's trade deficit with the world jumped 12.5% to $621 billion in 2018, the Commerce Department reported, as both imports and exports rose to the highest levels ever.

The merchandise trade deficit surged to the highest level ever recorded at $891.3 billion.

The figures will be a sore spot for President Donald Trump, who has spotlighted the trade deficit as an economic threat and imposed tariffs on trading partners over the last year.

Data from payroll service ADP said US companies hired 183,000 new workers in February, slightly more than expected by analysts but below the 300,000 added in January.

Petroleum-linked companies were under pressure as oil prices dropped. Shares of Dow member ExxonMobil lost 2.2%, Halliburton 1.9% and Apache 1.5%.

Johnson & Johnson advanced 0.3% after the Food and Drug Administration late Tuesday approved esketamine nasal spray, marketed under the brand name Spravato, which is seen as a potentially revolutionary treatment for severe, treatment-resistant depression. 

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