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US: Dow, S&P finish at records despite trade deal doubts

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The Dow and S&P 500 floated higher on Wednesday, inching to fresh records despite multiplying reports that US and Chinese trade officials are still struggling to conclude a partial bargain.

[NEW YORK] The Dow and S&P 500 floated higher on Wednesday, inching to fresh records despite multiplying reports that US and Chinese trade officials are still struggling to conclude a partial bargain.

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell largely met investor expectations for the first of two days of congressional testimony.

House lawmakers also opened the first day of televised impeachment hearings during which the top US diplomat in Ukraine leveled fresh accusations about President Donald Trump's conduct that country.

The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3 per cent to finish the session at 27,783.59, lifted by soaring Disney shares.

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Walt Disney shot more than seven percent higher, its biggest one-day gain since April, after reporting that its streaming service Disney+ had attracted 10 million subscribers on its first day.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 scraped by with a positive close, finishing essentially flat at 3,091.96, but achieving a new high close by less than two points. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell less than 0.1 per cent to 8,482.10.

Markets quickly pared gains in mid-afternoon following a new report by The Wall Street Journal saying Chinese officials hesitated to agree formally to making gigantic purchases of American farm exports.

Mr Trump last month announced a "phase one" deal had been agreed but efforts to commit the deal to paper appear to have hit roadblocks.

The two sides have already differed publicly on whether and when to remove tariffs imposed in their year-and-a-half-old trade war.

In a briefing Wednesday after markets closed, Mr Trump said the "our trade agreement with China is moving along very rapidly."

Meanwhile, in his testimony, Mr Powell reaffirmed that the central bank is on hold after cutting the benchmark lending rate three times this year.

"He did not deliver anything new but he delivered his message clearly: no need for more easing but they would ease if they needed to," Karl Haeling of LBBW told AFP.

AFP