Business / Financial Markets

Stocks rise as China confirms trade deal signing next week

AP

U.S stocks climbed in midday trading on Thursday as investors cheered confirmation from China that its top trade official will head to Washington next week to sign a preliminary trade deal.

The “Phase 1” accord is the opening step on a possible path toward a broader agreement between the nations. President Donald Trump has said he will travel to Beijing after the initial signing to start the second stage of talks.

Every major index is on track for a record as Wall Street distances itself from a bout of anxiety over the last week because of tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Both nations appear to be standing down in order to avoid armed conflict.

Technology stocks led the gains in the early going. Apple rose 2.2 percent and Nvidia climbed 1.4 percent. The sector is particularly reliant on trade because extensive sales and supply chains in China.

Banks and other financial companies also rose as bond yields edged higher. Citigroup rose 1 percent and Capitol One gained 1.3 percent. Higher bond yields allow financial institutions to charge more lucrative interest on mortgages and other loans.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.89 percent from 1.87 percent.

Utilities and real estate companies lagged the market as investors took a more bullish stance. Energy stocks fell as crude oil prices declined.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 0.7 percent as of noon Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 234 points, or 0.8 percent, to 28,978. The Nasdaq rose 0.9 percent. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks rose 0.4 percent.

OVERSEAS: Asian markets made solid gains as the trade deal between the U.S. and China progresses. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 2.3 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 1.7 percent.

European markets also rose.

MESSY ROOM: Bed Bath & Beyond plunged 18.6 percent after withdrawing its annual profit guidance. The housewares retailer made the decision following a disappointing third quarter where both earnings and revenue missed Wall Street forecasts.

RETAIL ROUT: Kohl’s fell 9.2 percent and J.C. Penney shed 7.9 percent after reporting sales declines during the holiday season. The weak results underscore the continued challenges ahead from online rivals.