US: Stocks rise on China trade talks progress

[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks finished modestly higher on Monday on renewed optimism about a potential US-China trade deal, and ahead of key economic data releases.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 26,091.95, up 0.2 per cent.

The broad-based S&P 500 edged up 0.1 per cent to 2,796.11, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.4 per cent to 7,554.46.

Wall Street spent the entire session in positive territory, but equities faded somewhat in the final hour of the day in a move that analysts attributed to profit taking.

US President Donald Trump said he expects to hold a "signing summit" with China's President Xi Jinping to seal a trade deal, since negotiators are "very, very close" to an agreement.

Officials worked through the weekend and, citing progress in the four days of talks, Mr Trump on Sunday extended the March 1 deadline, postponing for now a sharp increase in tariffs on US$200 billion in Chinese goods.

Optimism over a US-China trade accord has been a driver of a US equity rally that has lifted the S&P 500 about 19 per cent since December 24.

Mr Trump himself touted the gains on Twitter as "great news for your 401(k)s."

Key economic releases this week include consumer confidence for February, which comes on the heels of a weak US retail sales report for December that was attributed in part to consumer unease over a government shutdown and a pullback in the stock market in mid-December.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is scheduled to testify in Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Among individual companies, General Electric rose 6.4 per cent after announcing it would sell its Biopharma business to Danaher for US$21.4 billion in cash as it reduces debt amid a corporate turnaround. Danaher climbed 8.5 per cent.

Kraft Heinz dipped 2.1 per cent after Warren Buffett told CNBC his company Berkshire Hathaway overpaid for a stake in a 2015 deal after Kraft Heinz reported a large loss following a US$15.4 billion write-down of two flagship brands, Kraft and Oscar Mayer.



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