Article written by Lauriann Azzopardi

The stock market throughout 2018 has been surprisingly durable, highlighting a healthy economy and strong corporate results, amid heightened tensions from President Trump’s continued trade war and the Federal Reserve’s shift to a more hawkish stance. September will provide further challenges, as it proves to be the worst month for stock performance.

The S&P 500 ended flat, gaining 0.01 percent to 2,901.52; the Dow edged down 0.09 percent to 25,962.82; and the Nasdaq added 0.26 percent to 8,109.54 on Friday, as Canada and the US concluded trade talks without resolution ahead of the Labor Day weekend.

European shares fell on Friday, following speculation of more tariffs to be imposed on China. Europe’s STOXX 600 posted its worth monthly performance since February, ending the session down 0.8 percent. Germany’s DAX, heavier in trade-sensitive industrial stocks, fell 1 percent. All sectors were in negative territory; however, the sparring over trade between Trump and the EU weighed heavily on car stocks.

The Week Ahead

Trade news will undoubtedly drive market sentiment, as investors watch further developments in the continuing trade spat between the US and its major partners. After reaching no agreement on Friday, the US and Canada are expected to hold more discussions regarding the NAFTA. Furthermore, the monthly US jobs report, which is expected to remain consistent with a strengthening labour market, will be the highlight of the week.

Market participants will also look at China’s monthly trade figures to see if the ongoing conflict with the US had any impact on exports and imports in August. In addition, the Asian nation will publish a report on foreign exchange reserves.

Europe will have a relatively quiet week for economic data. Investors will focus on a report on activity in the UK’s dominant services sector for indications on the effect of the Brexit decision is having on the economy.

Pentagon cancels aid to Pakistan

The US military has decided to cancel $300 million in aid to Pakistan, which had been suspended over Islamabad’s perceived failure to take decisive action against militants. These funds were part of a broader suspension in aid to Pakistan announced by President Trump at the start of the year, when he accused Pakistan of rewarding past assistance with “nothing but lies and deceit.”

Facebook executives head for an exit

At least seven senior Facebook executives have announced their departures this year. The company states none are leaving on bad terms, and some will hold advisory positions. Facebook is looking at the planned exits as an opportunity to improve diversity among leadership. Although this news was not entirely shocking, it is a major shake-up for a company that prides itself on keeping executives around, especially since it has been subject to scandal and public scrutiny in recent months.