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VOL. 43 | NO. 1 | Friday, January 4, 2019

Stocks rise again as investors hope for trade breakthrough

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks climbed for the third day in a row Tuesday as the latest round of trade talks between Washington and Beijing continued. It's the longest winning streak for U.S. indexes since late November.

News reports said the trade negotiations would be extended to a third day, a potential positive sign even though no major developments have been announced so far. Experts say it will take months for them to resolve the causes of the trade war, which include disagreements over Beijing's handling of technology and intellectual property.

Investors have become notably more optimistic about an eventual deal, a sharp reversal of the concerns that helped send stocks plunging in October and December. An agreement between the two biggest economic powers in the world could remove a major obstacle to global economic growth, and many of the biggest gains Tuesday went to companies that usually do better in times of faster growth, including internet, technology and industrial stocks. Oil prices also kept rallying.

Kate Warne, an investment strategist for Edward Jones, said the market's large moves in recent weeks reflect investors' questions about major issues including economic growth, the threats of recession and trade tensions, and rising interest rates. She said it's normal for stocks to repeatedly change course as traders grapple with those issues on a day-to-day basis.

"You have new information that's driving stock prices both higher and lower, and that's pretty typical when there's uncertainty and there's a lot of new information coming into the market," she said.

Warne added that trading on Wall Street is typically light during the holidays, and that may have contributed to the huge swings in late December and early January.

The S&P 500 index rose 24.72 points, or 1 percent, to 2,574.41. The Dow Jones Industrial Average picked up 256.10 points, or 1.1 percent, to 23,787.45.

The Nasdaq composite climbed 73.53 points, or 1.1 percent, to 6,897. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocked gained 21.19 points, or 1.5 percent, to 1,426.55.

Railroad operator Union Pacific made one of the biggest gains among S&P 500 companies. It surged 8.7 percent to $150.75 after hiring longtime Canadian National railroad executive Jim Vena as its chief operating officer. Other transportation and industrial companies also jumped. Aerospace giant Boeing rose 3.8 percent to $340.53 and trucking and logistics company J.B. Hunt rose 2.8 percent to $95.88.

Among communications companies, Facebook rose 3.2 percent to $142.53. Verizon added 2.9 percent to $58.38 after it reported strong wireless subscriber gains in the fourth quarter. Among consumer-focused companies, Amazon gained 1.7 percent to $1,656.58 and Nike shot up 1.3 percent to $76.73.

Oil prices also continued to rally. U.S. crude rose for the eighth day in the last nine, jumping 2.6 percent to $49.78 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 2.4 percent to $58.72 a barrel in London.

U.S. crude dropped from $76 a barrel in early October to about $42 a barrel on Dec. 24 as investors worried about slowing economic growth and a supply glut. Brighter prospects for growth and higher energy demand have helped send energy prices higher since then.

Bond prices fell and yields rose, another sign of optimism about economic growth. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.73 percent from 2.65 percent late Monday.

Despite the upward move in bond yields, which usually helps banks by sending borrowing rates higher, bank stocks lagged the market on Tuesday.

Investors may have been preparing for future disappointment: analysts for Goldman Sachs lowered their forecasts for bond yields around the world.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note has fallen sharply since October, when it reached a seven-year high, and the report says yields "may have peaked for this (economic) cycle."

South Korean smartphone and computer chip maker Samsung said demand for chips is weak because the global economy is slowing. Last week Apple said its iPhone sales in China slumped, which traders took as a warning sign about its economy.

Samsung fell 1.7 percent in Seoul and U.S. chipmakers slipped. Nvidia lost 2.5 percent to $139.83.

Car retailer AutoNation said 2019 will be challenging year for sales, and its stock lost 3.9 percent to $36.18. The company also said it is restructuring its business, and several top executives including its chief operating officer are departing. Used car dealership CarMax gave up 2.3 percent to $64.91 while auto parts retailer AutoZone skidded 1.3 percent to $811.37.

The dollar edged up to 108.65 yen from 108.59 yen. The euro fell to $1.1443 from $1.1478.

In other commodities trading, gold fell 0.3 percent to $1,285.90 an ounce and silver dipped 0.3 percent to $15.71 an ounce. Copper rose 0.7 percent to $2.66 a pound.

Wholesale gasoline rallied 1.6 percent to $1.36 a gallon while heating oil jumped 2.7 percent to $1.83 a gallon. Natural gas gained 0.8 percent to $2.97 per 1,000 cubic feet.

France's CAC 40 jumped 1.1 percent and Germany's DAX rose 0.5 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.7 percent.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 0.8 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.2 percent. The South Korean Kospi gave up 0.5 percent.


AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP

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