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US: Wall St edges higher after Trump sparks US-China trade hopes

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street's major stock indexes edged higher on Friday after falling in the previous session, as hopeful comments from US President Donald Trump regarding trade relations with China assuaged concerns among some investors.

Mr Trump said late on Thursday that he saw a resolution to the trade war with China "happening fast". He added that Chinese telecom equipment company Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, which the White House has blacklisted, could also be included in a trade deal.

Still, he called Huawei "very dangerous".

No high-level talks between the United States and China have been scheduled since the last round of negotiations in Washington two weeks ago.

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Yet Mr Trump's comments were enough to give a slight lift to US stocks in muted activity ahead of a long weekend. Friday marked the lowest volume of the year for a full trading session. US markets will be closed on Monday for the Memorial Day holiday.

"There are some small positive stories here and there," said John Carey, managing director and portfolio manager at Amundi Pioneer Asset Management in Boston. "With light trading volume, it doesn't take too much to get things moving."

Stocks rose broadly, with nine of the S&P 500's major sectors moving higher, though declines in shares of Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc capped gains on the major indexes.

Even so, the S&P 500 ended the week more than 1 per cent lower to notch the third straight week of losses for the benchmark index, which has been weighed down by fears that the US-China trade war would result in a global economic slowdown.

Adding to concerns about a slowing broader economy, data showed that new orders for US-made capital goods fell more than expected in April.

Despite Friday's gains, said Robert Phipps, a director at Per Stirling Capital Management, "when you have the world's two biggest economies intending to inflect economic pain on each other, it's not a good environment for equity investors".

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 95.22 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 25,585.69, the S&P 500 gained 3.82 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 2,826.06 and the Nasdaq Composite added 8.73 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 7,637.01.

For the week, the Dow declined 0.68 per cent, the S&P 500 fell 1.16 per cent and the Nasdaq dropped 2.29 per cent. The Dow slid for the fifth straight week, its longest such losing streak in eight years, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq each registered their first three-week declines of the year.

The small-cap Russell 2000 gained 0.9 per cent, outpacing the major indexes, though it fell 1.4 per cent for the week. In a contrast from their performance last spring, small-cap stocks have dropped largely in line with their large-cap counterparts as US-China trade tensions have ratcheted up.

Financials led percentage gains among the S&P 500's major sectors, adding 0.8 per cent as US Treasury yields rose for the first time in three days.

Foot Locker Inc shares plunged 16.0 per cent, the most among S&P 500 companies, after the footwear retailer missed quarterly profit and same-store sales estimates.

Total System Services Inc shares jumped 13.9 per cent on reports that fellow payment technology services company Global Payments Inc is nearing a deal to acquire the company. Global Payments shares rose 3.7 per cent.

Autodesk Inc shares fell 4.9 per cent after the software maker reported quarterly revenue and earnings that were below expectations.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.98-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.83-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 37 new 52-week highs and 16 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 37 new highs and 105 new lows.

Volume on US exchanges was 5.48 billion shares, compared to the 6.95 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

REUTERS