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US: S&P, Nasdaq edge to fresh records, put trade fears aside

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[NEW YORK] The S&P 500 and Nasdaq moved a hair's breadth higher on Tuesday to post their third straight record closes as investors grew increasingly easy with North American trade talks.

Markets finished up slightly after a day of see-sawing trading. US and Canadian officials were due to begin talks in Washington to salvage the North American Free Trade Agreement, a subject which had unnerved investors for much of 2018.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up less than a tenth of a percentage point at 26,064.02.

The broader S&P 500 was essentially flat, though still in positive territory at 2,897.52. The index had earlier crossed the 2,900-point mark for the first time.

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Meanwhile the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.2 per cent to close at 8,030.04.

Lawmakers in US President Donald Trump's own Republican party and industry representatives have urged the White House to keep the trade pact as a three-nation deal but Trump has threatened to exclude Ottawa from the deal after striking a bargain with Mexico on Monday.

Jack Ablin of Cresset Wealth Advisors said the trading day had floated higher on a "general sense that the economy continues to improve."

"Macro headlines will be taking the center stage now that Q2 earnings season is behind us," he told AFP.

"So far, investors are taking tariff news and Trump's legal troubles pretty well."

Earlier in the day, the Conference Board reported that consumer confidence was at its highest level since October 2000, buoyed by steady job creation and persistent growth.

Electronics retailer Best Buy sank five per cent after offering disappointing third-quarter earnings guidance.

Meanwhile, electric automaker Tesla continued to fall, extending losses by 2.3 per cent after CEO Elon Musk's decision last week to kill plans to take the company private and on fears it may not meet key production targets.

AFP