A day of back-and-forth trading Thursday ended with the fifth gain in a row for U.S. stocks. Industrial companies like Boeing and General Electric rose while retailers fell as Macy’s suffered its biggest loss of all time.
Stocks struggled in the early going and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 175 points after U.S. and Chinese officials wrapped trade talks in Beijing. Transportation and machinery companies climbed after the U.S. Trade Representative said China agreed to buy more agricultural and manufactured products.
Macy’s said its sales over the year-end season were worse than expected and slashed its annual profit and sales forecasts. Kohl’s and L Brands also posted disappointing results and a wide variety of retailers plunged as investors worried that the stock market’s December plunge stopped some shoppers from spending as much as they had planned.
The S&P 500 index added 11.68 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,596.64. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 122.80 points, or 0.5 percent, to 24,001.92 after it fell 175 points in the morning.
The Nasdaq composite rose 28.99 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,986.07. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 6.63 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,445.43.
U.S. negotiators said China’s delegation pledged to buy more energy and agricultural products and manufactured goods. That helped Boeing climb 2.6 percent to $352.61 and General Electric jumped 5.2 percent to $8.94 while Deere rose 3.1 percent to $159.12.
However, that point is considered a relatively minor area of disagreement, and there were no hints of progress on bigger issues. The U.S. wants China to change its technology policy to reduce cyber theft of trade secrets and seeks more access to the Chinese market and increased protection for foreign patents and copyrights.
Macy’s said year-end sales slowed in the middle of December and the department store cut its annual profit and sales forecasts. Its stock plunged 17.7 percent to $26.11 in heavy trading. Macy’s went public in February 1992 and reached an all-time high of almost $73 a share in mid-2015, but four of the five biggest one-day plunges in its history have come in the last three years.
Oil prices extended their rally to a ninth consecutive day. U.S. crude added 0.4 percent to $52.59 a barrel in New York. It’s now up 23.7 percent since hitting an 18-month low on Dec. 24. Brent crude, the international standard, slid 0.4 percent to $61.68 a barrel in London.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell was interviewed at the Economic Club of Washington DC. Stocks briefly fell after Powell said he expects the Fed’s $4 trillion bond portfolio to shrink until it is “substantially smaller than it is now.”
Bond prices slipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.74 percent from 2.72 percent.
In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline added 0.4 percent to $1.43 a gallon and heating oil rose 1.3 percent to $1.91 a gallon. Natural gas dipped 0.5 percent to $2.70 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold fell 0.4 percent to $1,287.40 an ounce and silver shed 0.6 percent to $15.64 an ounce. Copper lost 0.7 percent to $2.97 a pound.
The dollar rose to 108.42 yen from 108.28 yen. The euro fell to $1.1500 from $1.1544.