US stocks mixed as anxious investors eye trade talks

U.S. stocks lacked direction Wednesday as investors await the start of key trade talks between the U.S. and China.

Investors have been on edge since President Donald Trump threatened to impose more tariffs on Chinese goods — a threat that is set to become reality early Friday. Negotiations between the U.S. and China are scheduled to continue in Washington on Thursday, and will include China’s top trade official.

Trump took to Twitter Wednesday to say that China is coming “to make a deal,” but that he’ll be happy to raise tariffs if the negotiations fail to produce an agreement.

Stocks are mixed following two days of sharper losses. The S&P 500 index was up less than a point as of 12:15 p.m. after dropping 48 points, or 1.7% percent Tuesday.

Investors have been anticipating a deal throughout this year, which contributed to double-digit gains in all the major indexes. But the latest tough talk is raising anxiety on Wall Street and casting more doubt about a resolution.

The U.S. government has filed plans to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10% to 25% Friday. If it follows through on those plans, it would mark a sharp escalation in the year-long trade dispute that has raised prices on goods for consumers and companies.

Industrial and consumer-focused companies led the gainers. Utilities and internet companies lagged the broader market. United Technologies rose 1.3% while Foot Locker added 3.2%. NRG Energy sank 5.4% and TripAdvisor shares dropped sharply after the vacation ratings company reported revenue that fell short of what analysts were expecting.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 12 points, or 031%, to 25,977. The Nasdaq composite fell less than 1%.

ROUGH RIDE: Lyft fell 3.8% after reporting a first quarter loss far wider than Wall Street forecast.

The ride-hailing company lost $1.1 billion in its first public quarter, primarily because it paid out $894 million in stock-based compensation and related payroll taxes during its initial public offering.

The report comes just days before the hotly anticipated IPO of Lyft’s much larger rival, Uber, which plans to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.

GOOD GAME: Electronic Arts rose 1.1% after the video game maker soared past Wall Street’s fiscal fourth quarter profit forecasts.

The company also beat revenue forecasts. It launched several new games during the quarter, including “Apex Legends” as it competes with hit games like “Fortnite” from rival Epic Games.

BAD TRIP: Investors punished TripAdvisor’s report of surprisingly low revenue during the first quarter. The stock fell 12.4% after the travel website operator reported a slight dip in revenue.

Analysts expected a revenue gain during the quarter. The company said international sales were softer than expected.