Market Recap - Trade Tensions Strike Again

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U.S. equities declined for the second week in a row as investors continued to focus on U.S.-China trade tensions. The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.3% apiece, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slid 2.4%. Small caps were hit especially hard, sending the Russell 2000 lower by 2.5%.

Trade war fears weighed at the start of the week due to reports that the White House is looking to bar Chinese companies from investing in U.S. tech firms. The Trump administration first responded to the reports with a mixed message; Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the White House is targeting all countries, not just China, while President Trump's top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, said the administration doesn't have any plans to impose investment restrictions, regardless of country.

However, the administration eventually cleared things up, deciding to defer foreign investment regulation to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). That decision was seen as a positive alternative to direct White House intervention and helped the equity market rebound in the second half of the week.

Separately, the U.S. State Department threatened to impose powerful sanctions on countries that don't cut oil imports from Iran to "zero" by November 4. That headline, paired with a larger-than-expected draw in U.S. crude inventories (9.9 million barrels), pushed crude prices back to a three-and-a-half year high. WTI crude futures added 8.1% for the week, closing at $74.12 per barrel.

Also out of Washington, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, effective July 31. Although he identifies as a conservative, Mr. Kennedy has often sided with his liberal colleagues. His retirement gives President Trump the chance to strengthen the court's conservative majority.

In corporate news, Amazon (AMZN) made headlines after announcing a deal to acquire online pharmacy start-up PillPack. That news sent shares of drug distributors like CVS Health (CVS) and Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) solidly lower. Amazon also announced it is inviting entrepreneurs to form small companies to carry packages over the last leg of the delivery journey.

Elsewhere, General Electric (GE) announced plans to spin off its health care business and to sell its 62.5% stake in oil and gas company Baker Hughes (BHGE); Walt Disney (DIS) won DOJ approval to buy most of Fox's assets for $71.3 billion, subject to the condition that Disney sells 22 regional sports networks; and Nike (NKE) spiked to a new record on Friday after beating both top and bottom line estimates and announcing a new $15 billion share repurchase program.

As for this week's S&P sector standings, utilities (+2.3%), telecom services (+1.2%), real estate (+1.1%), and energy (+1.0%) were the top-performing groups, while the heavily-weighted technology (-2.2%), financials (-1.9%), consumer discretionary (-1.9%), and health care (-1.8%) sectors finished at the back of the pack.