Techs power Wall St higher on trade optimism

Imaduddin December 13, 2018

US stocks jumped on Wednesday, boosted by the technology sector, as indications that Beijing would ease its “Made in China 2025” industrial policy added to optimism fueled by President Donald Trump’s upbeat comments on trade.

Trump, in an interview with Reuters, said trade talks were already underway and that China was buying a “tremendous amount” of U.S. soybeans.

He also said he would intervene in the case against a top executive at Huawei Technologies if it would help secure a trade deal.

“Sentiment is driven by positive news that there might be progress with U.S. and China negotiations – which, I think, will be the number 1 headline for the next three months,” said Tom Plumb, president of Plumb Funds in Madison, Wisconsin.

The S&P technology sector gained 2.17 percent, providing the biggest boost to the market. The sector, which is heavily exposed to China, is among the most beaten-down this quarter.

Another trade-sensitive sector, industrials, rose  1.61 percent on strength in Caterpillar Inc and Boeing Co.

However, Plumb said he would not be surprised to see the market drift again around afternoon, in line with recent movements.

“We are seeing some year-end positioning. Many people who bought into the stock market into the fall have significant losses on their portfolio and they will probably put some selling pressure,” Plumb said.

Trading has been especially choppy in the past two days amid a slew of headlines on topics ranging from trade to Britain’s planned divorce from the European Union and a U.S. government shutdown.

A potential source of worry for today is the results of a no-confidence vote against British Prime Minister Theresa May at 2100 GMT (4 p.m. ET), though a growing number of Conservative lawmakers have indicated support.

At 11:33 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 319.57 points, or 1.31 percent, at 24,689.81, the S&P 500  was up 37.69 points, or 1.43 percent, at 2,674.47 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 142.55 points, or 2.03 percent, at 7,174.38.

The other big boost came from a more than 2-percent gains in energy stocks, pulled higher by strong oil prices, and health stocks.

The laggards were the defensive consumer staples, utilities and real estate sectors.

China-based music streaming company Tencent Music Entertainment jumped 8.3 percent in its U.S. debut.

Verizon Communications Inc shares fell 2.3 percent after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 4.15-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 3.55-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 14 new 52-week highs and five new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 15 new highs and 96 new lows.

Copyright Reuters, 2018
 

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