U.S. stock indexes wavered between small gains and losses Wednesday as a late-afternoon wave of trading volatility put the market’s modest early gains at risk.
Energy companies, consumer goods makers and health care stocks took some of the heaviest losses, offsetting gains in other sectors. Noble Energy slid 2.7%, tobacco company Altria Group dropped 5.2% and Mylan fell 3.4%.
Chipmakers led the gainers in the technology sector. Advanced Micro Devices jumped 7.9% and Micron Technology climbed 2.8%.
Traders weighed a new report from payroll processor ADP showing private U.S. businesses added 129,000 jobs last month, down from the previous month’s gain of 197,000. The report comes a day before the government issues its tally of jobs added by U.S. employers last month. Economists project a gain of 170,000, according to FactSet.
The U.S. and China resumed negotiations Wednesday to end a trade war that has raised prices on goods for both consumers and companies. Investors hope that the world’s two largest economies can agree to pull back on some of those tariffs and move toward a more stable trading partnership.
Markets have swayed for months as the contentious talks drag on. The latest reports say that both sides have resolved most of the key issues, with some pledges from China to end practices viewed by the U.S. as technology theft.
Investors were also keeping a close watch on Britain’s messy departure from the European Union and a new round of corporate earnings results set to begin next week. The overall forecast is for a weak round of results, with earnings by S&P 500 companies expected to contract by 4 percent, according to FactSet.
Delta will kick off the earnings results for airlines early next week, with JPMorgan and Wells Fargo leading bank earnings later in the week.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “Investors