Wall Street gains on U.S.-China trade optimism

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks rose on Friday as investors took heart from positive signs regarding trade talks between the United States and China and after UK lawmakers voted to delay a potentially chaotic exit from the European Union.

China’s state-run news agency said Washington and Beijing were making further substantive progress on trade talks. The report came as a relief after news that a summit to seal a deal between the two sides will not happen at March-end.

Chipmakers, which get a large portion of their revenue from China, rose, with the Philadelphia SE chip index up 2.04 percent.

“Markets could hit new record highs if the trade issue with China is resolved, so anytime you get a positive story on that front it’s going to put a positive spin on the market,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

“Brexit is another issue for markets and looks like there might be an extension and that could be a part of the optimism as well.”

British lawmakers voted to seek a delay in Britain’s exit from the European Union on Thursday, setting the stage for Prime Minister Theresa May to renew efforts to get her divorce deal approved by parliament next week.

Domestic data showed manufacturing output fell for a second straight month in February, the latest evidence of a sharp slowdown in economic growth early in the first quarter.

The report comes after a batch of data this week that underscored the Federal Reserve’s patient stance on future interest rate hikes, which has helped S&P 500 rise 2.6 percent, its biggest weekly gain in nearly 2 months.

The benchmark S&P is now just about 4 percent away from its record closing high in September.

At 9:38 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 25.33 points, or 0.10 percent, at 25,735.27. The S&P 500 was up 5.89 points, or 0.21 percent, at 2,814.37 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 24.99 points, or 0.33 percent, at 7,655.90.

Volatility may rise during the session on account of “quadruple witching,” as investors unwind interests in futures and options contracts prior to expiration.

Consumer discretionary stocks rose 0.49 percent, the most among S&P sectors trading higher, boosted by Amazon.com Inc.

The online retailer gained 0.9 percent after brokerage KeyBanc upgraded its shares to “overweight”.

Software maker Oracle Corp fell 3 percent, while photoshop maker Adobe Inc tumbled 5 percent after they forecast current-quarter revenue below analysts’ estimates.

Facebook Inc dropped 2.3 percent after its Chief Product Officer Chris Cox exited the social media giant.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 2.33-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.59-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 30 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 30 new highs and seven new lows.

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