Wall Street sets records anew on trade deal boost

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Wall Street stocks notched record closing highs on Monday (Dec 16) as cooling trade tensions between Washington and Beijing and upbeat economic data from China boosted investor sentiment.

The Dow surpassed its November closing high, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq marked record closes for the third straight session. Friday's announcement of an interim trade deal between the world's two biggest economies has lifted prospects for the global economy, several analysts said.

Although growth in China is expected to continue moderating, the trade developments brightened the country's economic outlook. Adding to the optimism, data released early on Monday showed China's industrial output and retail sales growth accelerated in November.

The US-China trade deal suspended tariffs scheduled to take effect on Dec 15 on a variety of consumer products, including Apple Inc's iPhone.

Apple shares rose 1.7% and provided the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and Nasdaq. Shares of chipmakers, among the most trade-sensitive stocks, also rose. The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index gained 1.0%.

"It validates the best-case scenario people were expecting," Oliver Pursche, chief market strategist at Bruderman Asset Management in New York, said of the removal of tariffs.

Accommodative monetary policy by the Federal Reserve this year and mostly encouraging US economic data have also helped push Wall Street stocks to record levels.

The benchmark S&P 500 index is up more than 27% this year and on track for its highest annual percentage gain in six years.

"The Fed is increasing the size of its balance sheet, and that generally translates to a good equity market," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Investment Management in Chicago. "I'm not sure we need much more."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 100.51 points, or 0.36%, to 28,235.89, the S&P 500 gained 22.65 points, or 0.71%, to 3,191.45 and the Nasdaq Composite added 79.35 points, or 0.91%, to 8,814.23.

Shares of UnitedHealth Group and Amgen Inc jumped after Goldman Sachs added both companies to its"conviction list." UnitedHealth shares rose 2.3%, and Amgen shares moved 2.7% higher.

Boeing Co shares fell 4.3%, limiting gains on the Dow, on reports that the planemaker was considering whether to cut or halt production of its grounded 737 MAX aircraft.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.39-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.65-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 77 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 225 new highs and 54 new lows.

Volume on US exchanges was 7.48 billion shares, compared with the 6.85 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

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