China trade talks 'progress' boosts Wall Street

VIDEO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Optimism on a US-China trade deal drove Wall Street higher on Friday (March 15), with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq posting their highest closes since Oct 9.

The major stock indices closed the week with gains, largely recouping the prior week's losses although the Dow Jones Industrial Average was held lower by Boeing.

The Dow added 0.5 percent, rising 139 points to end at 25,849.01, a 1.6 per cent gain for the week.

Meanwhile, the broader S&P 500 rose 0.5 per cent to finish at 2,822.47, and the Nasdaq added 0.8 per cent, closing at 7,688.53, both posting their strongest weekly gains since November.

China's official Xinhua news agency reported "substantial progress" occurred in a phone call Beijing's trade enjoy Liu He held with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

"Comments coming from the Chinese side were positive. That helped despite the fact the US president suggested he could walk away from a deal this week," Quincy Krosby of Prudential Financial told AFP.

Investors also digested a mixed batch of economic data.

A survey of consumer sentiment overshot forecasts, suggesting consumers may be ready to resume spending after a spell of thriftiness.

But the manufacturing sector's suffering continued: the Federal Reserve reported US manufacturing output fell sharply for the second month in a row.

And the New York Federal Reserve Bank's survey of regional activity fell to its lowest level in about two years.

Shares in Boeing gained 1.5 per cent, in part after industry sources told AFP the company planned to install a software fix on its 737 Max aircraft in 10 days.

The top-selling aircraft have been grounded across the globe following Sunday's crash in Ethiopia.

Shares in chip makers AMD and Nvidia, which are exposed to the Chinese market, rose 2 per cent and 2.6 per cent, respectively.

Meanwhile, retail and cloud computing giant Amazon gained 1.6 per cent following the latest analyst upgrade on the company's stock.