Wall Street Flat in Midday Trade
The S&P 500, up 0.1%, has traded around its flat line for most of the session after being up as much as 0.4% shortly after the start of trading. The major averages got off to a higher start amid optimism that the U.S. and China kicked off another round of trade talks in Beijing today.The Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.1%) and the Nasdaq Composite (+0.3%) also trade near their unchanged marks. The Russell 2000, meanwhile, outperforms with a gain of 0.6%. The S&P 500 industrials (+0.6%) and energy (+0.5%) sectors are today's leaders. Conversely, the communication services (-0.3%), utilities (-0.3%), and health care (-0.2%) sectors trail the pack.Transport stocks have underperpinned the relative strength of the industrial sector so far today. The Dow Jones Transportation Average is up 1.1%, helped by strong performances from Norfolk Southern (NSC 177.85, +6.39, +3.8%), Avis Budget (CAR 28.03, +2.35, +8.9%), and in part by lower oil prices ($52.02, -$0.71, -1.3%). Norfolk Southern is up after the company announced a strategic financial plan to target a full year operating ratio of 60% by 2021. Avis Budget is up after Goldman Sachs "double" upgraded the stock to 'Buy' from 'Sell' and increased its target price to $35 from $30.Separately, there has been some talk of an M&A deal within the health care space. NuVasive (NUVA 56.93, +7.38) is up 14.9% after the Financial Times reported that the company is in talks to be acquired by Smith & Nephew (SNN 38.51, -1.68, -4.2%) for over $3 billion.In earnings news, Loews Corp (L 44.42, -3.05) is down 6.4% after the insurance company reported a Q4 loss of $0.53 per share. U.S. Treasuries have edged lower, pushing yields higher across the curve. The 2-yr yield is up two basis points to 2.48%, and the 10-yr yield is up three basis points to 2.66%. The U.S. Dollar Index is up 0.5% to 97.08, setting a new 2019 high.Investors did not receive any economic data today.