U.S. Stocks Keep Climbing as Trade-War Fears Recede

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Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

U.S. stocks are rising Thursday and major indexes in Europe are surging as global markets continue a rally that began late the previous day. Wall Street is getting more optimistic that a trade dispute between the U.S. and China, the two largest economies in the world, will be resolved without too much pain. Some of the biggest gains are going to technology companies, retailers and banks.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index climbed 24 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,668 as of 11:30 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 327 points, or 1.4 percent, to 24,592. The Nasdaq composite added 57 points, or 0.8 percent, to 7,099. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 11 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,543.

The Dow tumbled 501 points Wednesday morning after the U.S. and China each announced tariffs on about $50 billion in goods made by the other country. But stocks turned higher and the Dow finished with a gain of 230 points as officials in both countries reassured investors that they are willing to talk and aren’t rushing into a trade war that could hurt global economic growth and company profits.

After a plunge Monday and a big bounce back Tuesday, followed by a steep loss that turned into a big gain Wednesday, the S&P 500 is now up 1 percent this week.

COMING BACK: Big technology companies climbed. Apple gained $2.11, or 1.2 percent, to $173.72, and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, rose $12.99, or 1.3 percent, to $1,042.70. Those stocks mostly finished higher Wednesday after early losses. They have been the market’s biggest winners over the last year and have struggled during the recent round of turmoil because of trade worries and fears about increased government regulation for Facebook and other social-media companies. Facebook, which slipped after it revealed that its privacy scandal might affect 87 million users – far more than the 50 million estimated earlier – jumped $4.03, or 2.6 percent, to $159.20.

Deere picked up $3.41, or 2.3 percent, to $151.98, which canceled out most of Wednesday’s loss. Boeing rose $10.63, or 3.2 percent, to $338.07, after a 1-percent drop. Caterpillar, which made a small gain Wednesday, rose another $2.81, or 1.9 percent, to $147.99.

Retailers and consumer-focused companies built on their gains from the previous day. Amazon advanced $36.12, or 2.6 percent, to $1,446.69, and Netflix added $7.62, or 2.6 percent, to $296.56. Nike picked up 84 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $69.26.

OVERSEAS: Britain’s FTSE 100 surged 2.2 percent and Germany’s DAX jumped 2.9 percent. France’s CAC 40 advanced 2.6 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 surged 1.5 percent and South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.2 percent. Markets in Hong Kong were closed for holidays.

BONDS: Bond prices dipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.82 percent from 2.81 percent. The price of gold fell 0.8 percent to $1,329 an ounce.

Banks rose along with interest rates. JPMorgan Chase gained $1.27, or 1.1 percent, to $111.70, and Citigroup added 79 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $70.10.

Companies that pay hefty dividends, such as utilities and real-estate investment trusts, took small losses, while phone companies lagged the rest of the market. Their large dividend payments make those stocks similar to bonds, and investors find the stocks more appealing in times of turmoil and falling bond yields.

DOGGIE DISH DEAL: J.M. Smucker is buying Ainsworth Pet Nutrition for $1.9 billion. Ainsworth’s brands include pet-food brand Nutrish as well as Better Than! and Dad’s. Smucker already owns Kibbles ‘n Bits and Meow Mix, and it’s just the latest purchase of a pet-food company by a packaged-food maker as they try to cope with slower sales. In February, General Mills agreed to buy Blue Buffalo Pet Products for $8 billion.

Smucker declined 7 cents to $123.63.

CONN CRUSHED: Furniture retailer Conn’s tumbled $4.35, or 12.1 percent, to $31.50 after it reported weaker-than-expected revenue and forecast a bigger decline in first-quarter sales.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude added 20 cents to $63.57 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 40 cents to $68.42 per barrel in London. Oil prices dropped Wednesday in part because investors were nervous that a trade war would slow growth in the global economy, which would reduce demand for oil.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 107.42 yen from 106.74 yen. The euro fell to $1.2228 from $1.2280.

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