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Stock Market News: October 7, 2019

Stocks were mixed Monday ahead of the high-level trade negotiations between the U.S. and China set for later this week. After opening the trading session lower, the Nasdaq swung into positive territory midday.

Here were the main market moves, as of 11:20 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -0.05%, or 1.61 points
  • Dow (^DJI): -0.07%, or 19.90 points
  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +0.12%, or 9.57 points
  • Crude oil (CL=F): +1.95% to $53.84 per barrel
  • Gold (GC=F): -0.42% to $1,506.60 per ounce

Trade delegations from both the U.S. and China are scheduled to meet in Washington on Thursday. However, senior Chinese officials have recently signaled reluctance to work toward President Donald Trump’s broad trade deal, according to Bloomberg News. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is expected to lead the Chinese trade delegation in Washington this week, and he is reportedly planning to take one of Trump’s key demands off of the table. According to reports, Liu plans to bring a trade offer to the U.S. that excludes commitments on reforming Chinese industrial policy or government subsidies.

Though the Trump administration has vehemently denied claims that the impeachment inquiry into the president has affected the trade negotiations, many speculate that the drama in Washington has given the Chinese an upper hand in the trade war.

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., August 12, 2019. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

As recent economic data pointed to a weakening economy, investors will be paying close attention to the trade developments and the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) September meeting minutes. Market participants will be looking for further clues on the Fed’s monetary policy path. Fed Chair Jay Powell is scheduled to speak on two separate occasions this week. On Tuesday, Powell will be in Denver, Colorado at the The 61st National Association for Business Economics (NABE) Annual Meeting. He will be discussing “Data Dependence in an Evolving Economy.” Wednesday, Powell will be at the Fed Listens: A Community Listening Session in Kansas City, Missouri.

Following the worrisome manufacturing data and weaker-than-expected jobs report last week, many economists are anticipating that the Fed will cut rates at its meeting at the end of this month and possibly one more time in December. Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren told Yahoo Finance that he thinks the Fed is pretty close to fulfilling its dual mandate on inflation and unemployment, and thus does not necessarily see a case for a rate cut at this time. Rosengren previously dissented both of the Fed’s decision to cut rates earlier this year.

[Read more: Boston Fed’s Rosengren: US economy ‘consistent with staying where we are’]

STOCKS: General Electric freezes pension plan for employees; General Motors strike enters fourth week

General Electric (GE) shares rose Monday after the industrial giant said it would freeze pension plans for about 20,000 employees in a cost-cutting measure. GE has been sitting on a massive debt pile, and the move to freeze pensions will reduce the company’s pension deficit by about $5 billion to $8 billion. The embattled company also plans to freeze supplementary pension benefits for about 700 U.S. employees. The freeze will go into effect January 1, 2021. GE shares have been struggling over the past several years. The stock has fallen 29% in the past year and 62% in the past two years.

Talks between General Motors (GM) and the United Auto Worker’s Union (UAW) took a turn for the worse over the weekend, according to Terry Dittes, UAW Vice President in charge of the GM department. The UAW made an offer to GM on Saturday that covered wages, signing bonuses, job security and profit sharing. GM provided a counteroffer, which the UAW turned down. Since the strike began on September 16, analysts estimate that it has cost GM about $1 billion. The two sides have been meeting daily to reach an agreement. Though the strike did not affect September’s payroll figures, economists have noted that the strike most likely negatively affected the manufacturing data released last week.

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Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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