Oil prices decline, stock market rises as trade war fears subside

March 8 (UPI) — U.S. crude oil prices were trading lower Thursday and stock index prices moved higher as possible tariff exemptions in Canada and Mexico eased trade war fears.

Brent oil futures opened at 64.54 and were trading down 57 cents at 11 a.m. EST.

The April crude oil futures started the session at 61.33 and were trading down by 78 cents.

The stock market opened with losses but quickly rebounded. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 134 points at 9:45 a.m. and eased to being up 31 points at 11 a.m. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 82.76 points lower to 24,801.36 after falling more than 300 points.

“Today’s market action was impacted by the resignation of Gary Cohn. That creates uncertainty,” Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, told CNBC on Wednesday. Earnings are still growing, though, helping the fundamental backdrop remain positive, Sandven said.

Cohn, who had opposed President Donald Trump‘s proposal for aluminum and steel tariffs, resigned Tuesday.

But Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the tariff plan could include exemptions for Mexico and Canada, two key U.S. trade partners.

“There are potential carve-outs for Mexico and Canada, based on national security, and possibly for other countries as well,” Sanders said at a White House press briefing.

On Thursday, Trump wrote on Twitter, “We have to protect and build our steel and aluminum industries while at the same time showing great flexibility and cooperation towards those that are real friends.”

He said there would be a meeting scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the White House regarding the U.S. steel and aluminum industries. The White House didn’t give any details or when a final decision on tariffs would be announced.

Lat week, initial U.S. jobless claims rose by 21,000 to 231,000 — the highest level in six weeks, the Labor Department announced Thursday. The previous week its dropped to the lowest level since 1969.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly jobs report is scheduled for release Friday.

On Wednesday, ADP and Moody’s Analytics said private-sector jobs grew by 235,000 in February, surpassing an estimate of 195,000. This was the fourth month in a row that the private payrolls were 200,000 or above.

“The job market is red hot and threatens to overheat,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s, said in a statement. “With government spending increases and tax cuts, growth is set to accelerate.”

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