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Stocks Struggle for Direction Amid Mixed Trade War & Earnings News

On today’s episode of the Zacks Friday Finish Line, Associate Stock Strategist Ryan McQueeney and Editor Maddy Johnson recap the hectic week of headlines related to the U.S-China trade war. Later, the pair discuss a handful of key retail earnings reports.

Make sure to subscribe and leave the show a rating on Apple Podcasts!

Stocks struggled this week, as investors could not quite get a handle on whether the U.S. and China are making progress towards a trade deal. The two sides apparently agreed to hold off on new tariffs for 90 days at the G20 summit over the weekend, but news breaking later in the week caused Wall Street to become skeptical.

Notably, President Trump fired off a series of tweets on Tuesday that suggested he would continue to levy new tariffs if a deal is not reached. In other words, the U.S. side is still comfortable using the threat of new charges as a bargaining chip, and that made investors think rhetoric had not shifted much.

There were positive signs, however. For instance, Chinese officials on Tuesday night confirmed that they were “confident in implementing” trade commitments made to the U.S. This proved, to some extent, that agreements had actually been made.

However, that respite did not last long, as investors later learned that Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese tech behemoth Huawei, was arrested in Canada at the request of the United States. Meng’s charges remain unspecified, but given her role in the Chinese business, many saw the arrest as a direct escalation of the trade dispute.

On the first half of today’s show, Ryan and Maddy recap this timeline of events and explain why Wall Street reacted the way it did. Later, the hosts recap a handful of mixed earnings results from the retail sector.

This week saw a fresh batch of reports from several major retailers, including Kroger KR, Dollar General DG, Lululemon LULU, and Ulta ULTA. Most of the core results pointed to solid performances and a strong overall consumer economy, but each of these reports delivered something new to consider.

Which retail report was the strongest this week? Why did some of these retail stocks slump after reporting? What should investors look for next as we head further into the holiday season? Check out today’s show for Maddy and Ryan’s answers to all of these questions, and more!

If you feel that we missed something, or if you want us to cover a different story, shoot us an email at Make sure to check out all of our other audio content at, and remember to subscribe and leave us a rating on Apple Podcasts.

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