U.S. equities declined as investors tried to gauge the outlook for a trade deal between China and the Trump administration. Treasuries slipped and the US Dollar gained. The S&P 500 Index ended the day about half a percentage point lower after bouncing between small gains and small losses in light volume. Sentiment got a boost on speculation that China is ready to do a deal, while pessimists focused on a report that senior Chinese officials have indicated the range of topics they’re willing to discuss at upcoming talks has narrowed considerably. After the close of New York markets, the U.S. placed eight Chinese technology companies on a blacklist because of alleged human-rights violations, a move that may add to tensions between the countries. In the wake of a slew of weak data and with protectionism portrayed as the main impediment to global growth, investor focus will return to foreign trade this week as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and an entourage of officials head to Washington to resume talks with their U.S. counterparts. As economic indicators flash warnings, traders have ramped up bets for further Federal Reserve rate cuts. They’ll search for new clues on the policy path when minutes from the latest Fed meeting are released on Wednesday. As Brexit negotiations resumed in Brussels, Boris Johnson got a boost from the courts. A Scottish judge ruled in the Prime Minister’s favour in a case that could have forced him to obey a law requiring him to delay Brexit if he can’t reach a deal. But the lift may only be short-lived. The judge ignored the PM’s frequent assertions he won’t seek an extension and instead relied on assurances from government lawyers that he would obey the law. That may make it harder for Johnson to leave without a deal on Oct. 31.
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