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Thursday February 20th, 2020 6:13PM

Stocks edge higher over continued trade optimism

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged higher in midday trading Wednesday as investors remained optimistic about trade negotiations.

Major market indexes have been reaching record highs this week as the U.S. and China signal that talks are going well.

The latest economic data also helped reinforce Wall Street’s confidence in the economy’s health. The Commerce Department said the economy grew at a 2.1% rate last quarter, outpacing forecasts. The government also reported a surprisingly good increase in orders to U.S. factories.

Technology and communications companies moved higher. Texas Instruments rose 1.6% and Comcast gained 1.9%.

Banks also made gains. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.76% from 1.74% late Tuesday. Higher bond yields allow banks to charge more lucrative interest on mortgages and other loans.

Industrial companies were the biggest losers, with Boeing and Deere dipping.

The U.S.-China trade war remains the key focus for Wall Street as a Dec. 15 deadline nears for new tariffs on many Chinese-made items on holiday shopping checklists, such as smartphones and laptops. Investors hope that negotiations can progress enough to at least help suspend the scheduled escalation if the nations can’t agree on a full resolution by then.

U.S. markets will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 02% as of noon Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1 point to 28,122. The Nasdaq rose 0.5%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks rose 0.5%. European and Asian markets moved higher.

WEEKLY RECOVERY: The S&P 500 has so far regained its footing after stumbling last week. The index is on track for a 1.2% weekly gain as it continues setting records.

The Nasdaq is up nearly 2% for the week, which would mark its strongest gain since the end of summer.

STALLED TRACTORS: Deere fell 5.1% after giving investors a weak profit forecast because farmers are spending less money on new equipment. The maker of tractors, backhoes and other agricultural machinery said the trade war and a difficult growing season has kept farmers cautious about making major investments.

EXTREME OVERSIGHT: Boeing fell just under 1% after federal safety regulators indicated that they will keep full control over approvals of each new 737 Max built. The Federal Aviation Administration’s decision affects more than 300 finished Max jets currently sitting in storage.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets
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