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US: Stocks end higher on easing trade fears, Facebook jumps


[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks finished solidly higher on Tuesday amid easing of US-China trade tensions, while Facebook surged as the company's chief apologized to Congress over a data breach scandal.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 2.1 per cent at 7,094.30, as Facebook jumped 4.5 per cent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.8 per cent to end the day at 24,408.00, while the broad-based S&P 500 advanced 1.7 per cent to 2,656.87.

Markets breathed a sigh of relief after a much-anticipated address by Chinese leader Xi Jinping attempted to quell a worsening trade conflict with US President Donald Trump.

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Mr Xi declared a "new phase of opening up", and promised concessions on car tariffs and intellectual property, among other areas.

Mr Trump hailed Mr Xi's "kind words", although the White House made clear that concrete follow-up steps would be needed. Some analysts considered Mr Xi's speech largely a rehash of earlier statements.

"He seemed to reduce the tension," said Karl Haeling of LBBW. "The comments did not really bring anything new, but he said them in a very reassuring tone."

Facebook, meanwhile, scored big gains even as chief executive Mark Zuckerberg faced a barrage of questions in the first of two congressional hearings following revelations that political research firm Cambridge Analytica plundered detailed personal data on 87 million users ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Facebook had lost nearly 15 per cent following the initial Cambridge Analytica stories and Monday's closing price and was "probably oversold" heading into the hearing, said Bill Lynch, director of investment for Hinsdale Associates.

Industrial shares were also buoyant, with Caterpillar, Boeing and DowDuPont all winning more than three per cent.

Energy companies ExxonMobil and Chevron both rose nearly three per cent on higher oil prices.

But higher oil prices weighed on airlines, with American Airlines dropping 4.7 per cent and United Continental 1.4 per cent.