Stocks March Higher on Growing Hopes for China Trade Talks

NEW YORK (AP) -

U.S. stocks jumped Thursday as China and the U.S. said they will hold their first trade discussions in months, a potential sign of progress toward ending their trade war.

China will send a trade envoy to Washington later this month in a new attempt to end the trade dispute before it causes major damage to the global economy. The two sides haven’t talked since early June. Energy and metals prices and shares of industrial companies turned higher.

Walmart soared after reporting its strongest growth in sales in more than a decade. Other companies that make and sell basic necessities also rose.

The S&P 500 index climbed 22.32 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,840.69. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 396.32 points, or 1.6 percent, to 25,558.73 as Walmart and Boeing made big gains. The Nasdaq composite rose 32.41 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,806.52.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 15.09 points, or 0.9 percent to 1,685.75.

Walmart posted its biggest gain in more than a decade in sales at stores open at least a year, and its online revenue grew 40 percent, a faster pace than it reported in the first quarter. The stock jumped 9.3 percent to $98.64, which wiped out its losses from earlier this year.

Other retailers and consumer goods companies also edged higher. Target added 1.7 percent to $82.07 and Procter & Gamble rose 1.7 percent to $83.69 while McDonald’s increased 1.2 percent to $161.73.

Banks rallied as interest rates increased. Bond prices turned lower again. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.87 percent from 2.85 percent.

Oil prices were steady after a sharp drop a day earlier. U.S. crude inched up 0.7 percent to settle at $65.46 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, picked up 0.9 percent to $71.43 per barrel.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline slipped 0.5 percent to $1.99 a gallon, heating oil rose 0.3 percent to $2.10 a gallon, and natural gas fell 1.1 percent to $2.91 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Metals prices also turned higher. Gold dipped 0.1 percent to $1,184 an ounce. Silver rose 1.8 percent to $14.71 an ounce. Copper added 2.2 percent to $2.62 a pound. That made up for much of Wednesday’s loss, but copper prices are still down 20 percent since early June.

Stocks have swung wildly over the last week. Thursday marked the Dow’s largest gain since April. The day before that, stocks took their biggest loss in six weeks.

Global markets slumped Friday and Monday as investors worried about Turkey’s currency crisis, then rebounded Tuesday only to fall again Wednesday on rising concerns about China’s economic growth.

J.C. Penney tumbled 27 percent to $1.76 after it took a bigger loss than analysts expected and reported weaker sales. The chain also cut its forecasts for the year again. Dillard’s dropped 8.7 percent to $75.80 after its report.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries jumped 7.3 percent to $24.11 after U.S. health officials approved its generic version of EpiPen, the emergency allergy medication made by Mylan. The injections are stocked by schools and parents to treat allergic reactions to food and bug bites.

The dollar rose to 110.88 yen from 110.57 yen. The euro rose to $1.1365 from $1.1346.

Germany’s DAX added 0.6 percent and in France the CAC 40 rose 0.8 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 rallied 0.8 percent.