S&P 500 closes in on record-high on trade hopes, euro zone stimulus

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 inched closer to its all-time high on Thursday, after a stimulus drive by the European Central Bank added to an upbeat mood from trade concessions by Washington and Beijing ahead of planned negotiations in October.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

President Donald Trump said the United States would delay increasing tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports, after Beijing exempted some U.S. goods from additional levies.

Trade-sensitive technology stocks provided the biggest boost among the 11 major S&P 500 .SPX sectors, taking the benchmark index just 0.3% off the record-high hit in July.

While most analysts agreed that the concessions were a step in the right direction, they were skeptical that the moves would lead to a breakthrough in trade negotiations between the world’s two largest economies.

“Both China and the United States are trying to reach across the aisle … but all they’ve done is kick the can further down the road,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

ECB chief Mario Draghi pledged indefinite asset purchases on Thursday and cut deposit rates to a record low for the first time since 2016. The move took a toll on U.S. treasury yields across the board, which dragged down shares of banks .SPXBK by 0.6%. [US/]

Investors expect other central banks to deliver similar stimulus programs to prop up a global economy that has been bruised by the Sino-U.S. trade war. The Federal Reserve is also expected to reduce interest rates at its policy meeting next week.

All the major indexes hit a session high on a report here that the Trump administration was considering an interim deal with China. However, they quickly pared gains after CNBC said that a senior White House official denied here the report.

“It’s just what we should come to expect now,” Kingsview’s Nolte said about the choppy market reactions.

Separately, data on Thursday showed U.S. underlying consumer prices in August recorded the largest annual gain in a year, while weekly jobless claims dropped to a five-month low.

At 13:50 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 155.02 points, or 0.57 percent, at 27,292.06, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 18.54 points, or 0.62 percent, at 3,019.47 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 53.61 points, or 0.66 percent, at 8,223.29.

Energy stocks .SPNY fell 0.44% and were the only decliners among the 11 major S&P 500 sectors as oil prices dipped after a meeting of the OPEC+ alliance yielded no decision on deepening supply cuts. [O/R]

Industrial stocks were pressured by drops in Deere & Co (DE.N) and Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) after Wells Fargo downgraded their shares to “market perform”.

Oracle Corp (ORCL.N) fell 3.7% after the software maker posted first-quarter revenue that missed Wall Street expectations and said Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd would be taking a medical leave.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.32-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.23-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 39 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 79 new highs and 20 new lows.

Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Shounak Dasgupta

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