• Reuters


Wall Street was set to break a three-day losing streak on Wednesday, following a report that the United States and China were moving closer to signing a “phase one” trade deal.

Washington and Beijing were close to agreeing on the amount of tariffs to be rolled back, Bloomberg reported, a day after President Donald Trump said the deal might have to wait until after the U.S. presidential election in November 2020.

“I think the president wants and needs a trade deal before the election, not after,” said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company. “He (Trump) needs to have something to take to the electorate in 2020.”

A record run for the three main indexes, fueled by hopes of an interim trade deal in the near term, came to a halt at the end of last week as political risks heightened between the two countries over Hong Kong.

The back-and-forth on trade has also made investors wary after the final month of 2018 was the worst December on Wall Street since the Great Depression.

Tariff-sensitive semiconductor companies also rose, lifting the Philadelphia Semiconductor index up 1.3 percent. The broader technology sector gained 0.3 percent.

Markets shrugged off a survey that showed U.S. private employers added the fewest jobs in six months in November, with focus now turning toward the Labor Department’s more comprehensive nonfarm payrolls data due Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 180.62 points, or 0.66 percent, at 27,683.43, the S&P 500 was up 19.45 points, or 0.63 percent, at 3,112.65 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 45.21 points, or 0.53 percent, at 8,565.86.

All the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were trading higher, with energy stocks gaining the most as oil prices surged 4 percent.

Alphabet Inc rose 1.8 percent after it said Sundar Pichai, who has run its core Google search business since 2015, would take the reins as CEO of the parent company.

Johnson & Johnson gained 1.6 percent after it said recent tests showed Johnson’s Baby Powder was free of asbestos.

Expedia Group Inc jumped 6.2 percent, the most on the S&P 500, after its chief executive officer and finance head resigned.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.85-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.01-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 15 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 47 new highs and 30 new lows.

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