Wall Street gains on trade optimism

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Wall Street gains on trade optimism

By Medha Singh

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks rose for a second day on Thursday, led by technology stocks, as sentiment was boosted by signs of progress between the United States and China over their bitter trade dispute.

Dow components – Apple Inc (O:AAPL), Cisco Systems Inc (O:CSCO), Microsoft Corp (O:MSFT) – gained between 0.5 percent and 0.8 percent, with the S&P technology sector (SPLRCT) 0.42 percent higher.

Technology names are heavily exposed to China and the progress on trade talks has helped put the Nasdaq on track for fourth day of gains in a row.

Trade-sensitive industrials sector (SPLRCI) was up 0.21 percent.

The S&P 500 (SPX) enjoyed its best one-day percentage gain in 10 days on Wednesday following U.S. President Donald Trump's upbeat comments on trade talks and Beijing's first major purchase of U.S. soybeans in months.

Trading has been increasingly choppy in the past few days, with stocks testing their 2018 lows multiple times, amid a slew of headlines on topics ranging from China trade and a potential U.S. government shutdown to uncertainty around Brexit.

Traders caution that while the market might stay above the 2018 lows it would likely continue to be volatile at least until a U.S.-China negotiating deadline at the end of February.

"Market is going to be choppy surrounding the resolution of the trade talks until we see some clarity," said Andre Bakhos, managing director at New Vines Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

"The market is approaching a seasonally positive time of the year, but right now we have uncertainty about trade and looks like that's going to drive volatility."

Among the 11 major S&P sectors, only the S&P energy index (SPNY) was down 0.60 percent as oil prices fell below $60 per barrel. [O/R]

At 9:55 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) was up 48.30 points, or 0.20 percent, at 24,575.57. The S&P 500 (SPX) was up 2.63 points, or 0.10 percent, at 2,653.70 and the Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) was up 1.65 points, or 0.02 percent, at 7,099.96.

Among other stocks, Procter & Gamble Co (N:PG) gained 2.38 percent after Bank of America Merrill Lynch (NYSE:BAC) upgraded the consumer goods maker's stock to "buy" from "neutral".

General Electric Co (N:GE) jumped 10.22 percent after longtime bear JP Morgan upgraded the industrial conglomerate's shares to "neutral".

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.05-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.32-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded four new 52-week highs and 17 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 10 new highs and 77 new lows.

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