(AP) — Stocks rose on Wall Street on Thursday after the U.S. and China took steps to ease tensions in their costly trade war, putting investors in a buying mood.
Technology, financial and consumer-focused stocks helped power the modest rally, which extended the market’s solid gains from the day before despite losing some momentum in the final hour of trading. The benchmark S&P 500 closed within 0.6% of its all-time high set July 26.
The U.S. agreed to delay another round of tariffs on Chinese imports by two weeks to Oct. 15. Meanwhile, Chinese importers have asked U.S. suppliers for prices for soybeans, pork and other farm goods — a sign they might step up purchases of American agricultural products.
The gestures stoked cautious optimism among investors that the next round of trade talks in October between Washington and Beijing may lead to some progress after a string of failed attempts at resolving the longstanding dispute.
“What’s driving markets today is the potential for an interim trade deal,” said Tony Roth, chief investment officer at Wilmington Trust. “There’s enough pain to [China’s] domestic economy and there’s enough pain to our domestic economy that it’s in both presidents’ interests to take a step back and have a little bit of breathing room right now. That’s what has changed.”
The S&P 500 rose 8.64 points, or 0.3%, to 3,009.57. The Dow Jones industrial average extended its winning streak to a seventh straight day, gaining 45.41 points, or 0.2%, to 27,182.45.
The Nasdaq added 24.79 points, or 0.3%, to 8,194.47. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up an early gain, sliding 0.65 point to 1,575.07.
The U.S.-China talks have basically gone nowhere since early May, when the two sides appeared to be nearing a deal. Along the way, the countries have slapped import taxes on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of each other’s products.
Tech stocks notched solid gains Thursday. The sector’s companies, particularly chipmakers, are heavily impacted by the trade war because many of them make products in China.
Chipmaker Intel gained 0.4%, while Advanced Micro Devices rose 1.5%. Microsoft, the most valuable company in the S&P 500, added 1%.
Consumer-focused stocks also helped lift the market. Starbucks rose 1.2%.
Energy companies tumbled as oil prices slid 1.2%. Oilfield services company Schlumberger dropped 1.1%.
Health care stocks gave up an early gain. UnitedHealth Group fell 1.8%.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.78% from 1.73% a day earlier, giving a boost to financial sector stocks. Higher yields drive interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans higher, which drives up bank profits. SunTrust Banks gained 1.3%, and American Express rose 0.9%.
Benchmark crude oil fell 66 cents to settle at $55.09 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, dropped 43 cents to close at $60.38 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.55 per gallon. Heating oil declined 1 cent to $1.89 per gallon. Natural gas rose 2 cents to $2.57 per 1,000 cubic feet.