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Wall Street advances on renewed trade deal optimism

Kitco News

(Reuters) - Tech stocks led Wall Street into the black on Wednesday, capping a three-day losing streak as a report that China was open to a partial deal heartened investors ahead of high-level trade negotiations.

All three major U.S. stock averages were higher, with Microsoft (MSFT.O) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O) providing the biggest lift to the benchmark S&P 500.

Trade-sensitive chipmakers advanced, with the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index .SOX rising 2.1%.

China remains open to agreeing to a partial trade deal with the United States, despite the inclusion of top Chinese artificial intelligence startups in a trade blacklist, according to a Bloomberg report.

Separately, the Financial Times said Beijing was offering to increase its annual purchases of U.S. agricultural products.

“A partial deal with China would at least pave the way for a larger deal down the road,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York. “Every day we get a different tweet and the market takes a different direction. Today is an up day on a favorable tweet.”

Minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s most recent meeting showed most policymakers supported the need for an interest rate cut last month, and while all were generally more concerned with risks associated with the U.S.-China trade war, slowing global growth among other geopolitical issues, they differed on what that meant for the U.S. economy.

“The outlook remains challenging because of the general economy, which is being impacted by tariffs,” Ghriskey added. “Therefore, unless we see a trade deal, the probability of the Fed lowering rates again at the October meeting is high.”

Trade tensions, efforts to impeach President Donald Trump, signs of slowing economic growth and rising geopolitical tensions have gripped equity markets so far this month, with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones indexes off about 2% since the end of September.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 205.69 points, or 0.79%, to 26,369.73, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 29.25 points, or 1.01%, to 2,922.31 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 88.56 points, or 1.13%, to 7,912.34.

All 11 major sectors of the S&P 500 were higher, with technology .SPLRCT and financials .SPSY enjoying the largest percentage gains.

Microsoft (MSFT.O) led the Dow’s gain, rising 2.0%, while Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) was the blue-chip index’s sole decliner.

The drugmaker’s shares dropped 2.3% after a jury awarded $8 billion in punitive damages in a case surrounding its antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

With third-quarter earnings season coming into focus, analysts now expect earnings for S&P 500 companies to contract by 3.1% from a year earlier.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.23-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.58-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 12 new 52-week highs and 11 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 8 new highs and 98 new lows.

Reporting by Stephen Culp

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