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Stocks little changed as Street digests tariff delay and ECB bond buying program

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Wall Street set to add to Wednesday's gains

Stocks hovered along the flatline on Thursday as investors digested a delay to higher U.S. tariffs against Chinese imports along with a large bond buying program from Europe's central bank.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 9 points lower, or 0.04%. The S&P 500 was up less than 0.1% while the Nasdaq Composite traded 0.2% higher. 

The Dow and S&P 500 entered Thursday's session less than 1% from record highs reached in July. The Dow also closed above 27,000 on Wednesday for the first time since July 30 while the S&P 500 broke above 3,000 for the first time since July 31.

President Donald Trump agreed to delay an additional increase in tariffs on Chinese goods by two weeks "as a gesture of good will." The move raised hopes of a thaw in trade frictions between the world's two largest economies.

President Donald Trump participates in a presentation ceremony of the Medal of Valor and heroic commendations to civilians and police officers who responded to mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., September 9, 2019.
Erin Scott | Reuters

Stock futures initially jumped on the news but later pared gains before Thursday's open.

"It is true that the US/China trade dispute is perhaps less hostile than it was a couple of weeks ago," said Michael Shaoul, chairman and CEO of Marketfield Asset Management, in a note. He added, however, it is reasonable to argue that its "influence on allocations may have become exhausted at the current time."

The U.S. and China have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of one another's goods since the start of 2018, battering financial markets and souring business and consumer sentiment. Trade officials from both sides are expected to hold talks in Washington in early October.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC's "Squawk Box" that Trump could strike a trade deal with China at any moment, but wants a "good" deal for American workers.

Elsewhere, investors digested the latest decision from policymakers at the European Central Bank. The ECB cut its deposit rate by 10 basis point and launched a new bond buying program. The bank will buy €20 billion worth of assets for as long as needed.

The euro dropped 0.2% against the dollar following the announcement. Gold futures shot up to trade more than 1% higher at $1,521.80 per ounce.

—CNBC's Sam Meredith contributed to this report.

source: CNBC

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