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US: Stocks boosted by more benign signs on trade

[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks climbed for a second straight session on Wednesday after the US sent more conciliatory messages on trade, offsetting lackluster economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 0.5 per cent at 25,648.02

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.6 per cent to 2,850.96, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 1.1 per cent to 7,822.15.

Stocks opened lower following surprisingly weak US retail sales data for April. But equities got a lift from mid-morning reports at AFP and elsewhere that the White House plans to hold off on steep tariffs on imported autos.

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Also, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a Senate panel that Washington was close to resolving its differences with Mexico and Canada over steel and aluminum tariffs that have created friction among the trading partners.

Mnuchin also repeated his expectation that US negotiators would return to Beijing to pursue stalled talks aimed at resolving the US-China trade war.

Among individual sectors, Ford and General Motors gained about one per cent and Fiat Chrysler two per cent following on the delay to auto tariffs.

Google parent Alphabet jumped 3.9 per cent, unveiling new promotional formats as it competes with Amazon and Facebook for advertising dollars.

Other large tech shares were also solidly higher, including Amazon, Apple and Netflix, all of which rose more than one per cent.

Macy's dropped 0.6 per cent despite reporting better-than-expected first-quarter earnings as it warned of the possible hit from new broad-based tariffs on Chinese goods threatened by the Trump administration.

AFP