Indexes edge higher as retailers rally
U.S. stocks rose slightly Wednesday as Urban Outfitters and Target helped retailers rally. That was enough to cancel out more losses for energy companies. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 3.50 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,468.11. The Dow Jones industrial average added 25.88 points, or 0.1 percent, to 22,024.87. The Nasdaq composite gained 12.10 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,345.11. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies inched up 0.30 points to 1,383.53. Benchmark U.S. crude lost 77 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $46.78 a barrel in New York.
U.S. demands major changes to NAFTA
The United States won’t settle for cosmetic changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement, the top U.S. trade negotiator said, as negotiations to rework terms of the pact began. President Donald Trump has called the 23-year-old trade pact the “worst” in history and vowed to fix it — or withdraw from it. On the first of five days of talks, U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer said Wednesday that Trump “is not interested in a mere tweaking of a few provisions and an updating of a few chapters. We believe NAFTA has fundamentally failed many, many Americans and needs major improvement.” The U.S. trade representative said he wanted to change the pact to require that duty-free NAFTA products contain more content made within the trade bloc and specifically in the United States.
International arrivals rose in January
International arrivals to the U.S. increased 2 percent in January 2017 compared with January 2016, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced Wednesday. The 5.6 million international visitors who arrived this past January represented the first monthly increase in inbound international visits to the U.S. since June 2016, the agency said. The statistics could definitively show an important reversal of the downward trend observed in late 2016. The top five inbound markets for January 2017 were Mexico, Canada, China, Japan and the United Kingdom, though visits from Japan and the U.K. were down compared to January 2016. Visitors from China showed the biggest jump, a 17 percent increase, and visitors from South Korea were up 12 percent compared to January 2016.