US stocks boosted by strong consumer data

VIDEO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished higher on Friday (Nov 22), shaving losses for the week following mostly solid retailer earnings and good consumer confidence data.

Retailers Nordstrom and Gap both jumped following earnings reports, while a University of Michigan report showed higher consumer confidence in November, bolstering sentiment at a critical period for stores.

"The market is focused on the health of the consumer going into the holiday shopping season," said Adam Sarhan of 50 Park Investments.

"US consumers make up two thirds of the economy so the fact that the consumer spending is so strong, both on Main Street and Wall Street, especially as we head into the holiday season, is significant," he said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended at 27,875.62, up 0.4 per cent.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.2 per cent, closing at 3,110.29, and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index also added 0.2 per cent, rising to 8,519.88.

US indices notched records on Monday but were under pressure the last three days amid rising uncertainty over US-China trade talks.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump told Fox News the two sides are "potentially very close" to finalising a deal but that he was "not anxious" to make one.

Earlier, Chinese President Xi Jinping said he hoped a deal was close at hand but that he was "not afraid" to fight back if necessary.

Among retailers releasing results, Nordstrom shot up 10.6 percent after reporting better-than-expected third-quarter results. It said its new New York flagship store drew 85,000 visits during the first weekend.

But Williams-Sonoma dropped 1.9 percent as it reported a dip in third-quarter profits. The company's Pottery Barn chain topped expectations but the namesake brand came up short.

Tesla slumped 6.1 percent after its launch of an all-electric pickup truck drew several lackluster reviews, with analysts saying the space-age design was unlikely to challenge top-selling models by Ford and other conventional car companies.

The launch also included an embarrassing moment for chief executive Elon Musk, who was heard using an expletive when the vehicle's supposedly indestructible windows cracked after being struck with a steel ball.