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US: Wall St gains on upbeat earnings, trade talk optimism

[NEW YORK] US stock indexes rose on Thursday, helped by a string of robust earnings reports, a dip in the dollar and after China said it will hold talks with the United States later this month.

Walmart's shares surged 9.2 per cent, the most on the benchmark S&P 500 index, after the retailer said its US comparable sales grew the most in a decade and posted strong e-commerce sales.

Its strong quarterly report lifted the S&P retailers index up 0.59 per cent.

Cisco jumped 4.3 per cent after posting quarterly results and first-quarter sales forecast that topped Wall Street expectations.

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Industrials rose 0.94 per cent on hopes that Beijing and Washington may resolve a conflict that has roiled financial markets since early March. Shares of trade-sensitive companies Boeing rose 3.2 per cent and Caterpillar 2.1 per cent.

"Markets are looking for a rebound after Wednesday's sell-off on news of US and China resuming talks," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

"Any hopes of some sort of an agreement would relieve worries of a trade war and the markets would be able to focus on the macro news and earnings."

The greenback fell with investors buying back into currencies that were hit hard in the recent selloff, while the lira rallied after Turkey's finance minister said his country will come out of the current market volatility stronger.

The KBW bank index gained 1.06 per cent as bank stocks gained and eased fears of investors who fretted about exposure to Turkey.

At 9.52am EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 323.31 points, or 1.28 per cent, at 25,485.72, the S&P 500 was up 18.96 points, or 0.67 per cent, at 2,837.33 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 45.31 points, or 0.58 per cent, at 7,819.43.

Ten of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with only the defensive utilities sector in the red.

Technology stocks rose 0.61 per cent, led by a 6.7 per cent gain in Symantec. Hedge fund Starboard Value has nominated five directors to Symantec's board after taking a 5.8 per cent stake in the cybersecurity firm.

JC Penney slumped 26.6 per cent after the department store chain cut its full-year forecast and posted lower-than-expected quarterly results.

Nordstrom, which is due to report results after markets close, dipped 1.1 per cent.

Second-quarter earnings have been stronger than expected, with 79 per cent of the 460 S&P 500 that have reported so far beating analyst expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 4.13-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 2.47-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 19 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 34 new highs and 32 new lows.

REUTERS