Stocks meandered but finished mostly higher Tuesday as retailers and industrial companies rose. A jump in metals prices helped mining and materials companies. Asian markets jumped after the North Korean government said it was open to talks with the United States about ending its nuclear program.
Stocks have edged higher over three days but have bounced up and down as investors grapple with the Trump administration’s stance on trade and whether proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will push US inflation higher and lead to retaliation by other countries that would hurt economic growth and corporate profits.
Kristina Hooper, chief global markets strategist for Invesco, said Wall Street is having trouble deciding if the tariffs are more of a bargaining chip in trade negotiations, as President Trump has suggested at times, or a goal on their own.
‘‘When it seemed as though it was just rhetoric [Monday], markets relaxed,’’ she said. ‘‘Today, I think concerns have grown that maybe this isn’t just a bargaining tactic.’’ She said Republicans don’t seem to be treating the tariffs as a bargaining move: House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke up against the proposed tariffs Tuesday and called for a ‘‘more surgical approach’’ that might cause less backlash.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.3 percent, to 2,728.12. The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 9.36 points to 24,884.12. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.6 percent, to 7,372.01. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 1 percent, to 1,562.20.
Stocks fell 3.7 percent during a three-day losing streak last week after Trump announced his tariff plans. Other countries objected and the European Union announced plans to put tariffs on some US-made goods. Companies that make most of their sales overseas have fared the worst, while US-focused companies have regained their losses from that three-day stretch.
Asian markets climbed after North Korea said it is willing to start talks on denuclearization. It also said it would stop nuclear and missile tests during those discussions. The Kospi in Seoul jumped 1.5 percent; Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.8 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index climbed 2.1 percent.
While Amazon, Best Buy, and Lowe’s gained ground, Target lost 4.5 percent after it reported that costs associated with overhauling its stores and investing in its website affected its earnings and forecasts for the current year. Target also said it is raising minimum starting pay for the second time in less than a year.
Qualcomm fell and Broadcom rose after Bloomberg News reported that Broadcom is on track to get more leverage in its effort to buy Qualcomm, which wants Broadcom to make a richer offer. Bloomberg reported that, so far, directors backed by Broadcom are on pace to win six seats on Qualcomm’s board. Qualcomm’s current board opposes Broadcom’s $117 billion bid for the company and says the price is too low. A board supported by Broadcom would probably accept the offer.
Qualcomm gave up 2.9 percent, and Broadcom added 1.6 percent. Both stocks fell Monday after The Committee for Foreign Investment in the US said it will look into the deal.
Nordstrom rose 1.1 percent after the department store rejected an offer from the Nordstrom family to take it private, saying the price of $50 a share was too low. Family members own 30 percent of Nordstrom’s stock.
Benchmark U.S. crude added 3 cents to $62.60 a barrel in New York. Brent crude rose 25 cents to $65.79 in London.
Bond prices edged higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.87 percent from 2.88 percent.
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