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Saturday September 26th, 2020 3:52AM

US stock indexes move higher, on track for more record highs

By The Associated Press
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Stocks moved broadly higher on Wall Street Wednesday afternoon, steering the major indexes toward record highs for the third straight day.

A batch of positive U.S. economic data helped spur the rally on a day of light trading ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday. The market has been notching records in recent weeks as the U.S. and China have signaled that negotiations aimed at resolving their costly trade war are going well.

The latest economic data also helped keep investors in a buying mood. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that 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 and a pickup in consumer spending.

"This is an environment where we continue an economic expansion, albeit at a somewhat slower rate," said Bill Northey, senior investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. "There is a very positive sentiment around U.S. equity markets."

Technology stocks and companies that rely on consumer spending notched some of the biggest gains. Texas Instruments rose 2% and Expedia Group climbed 2.6%.

Communications stocks also helped lift the market. Comcast gained 2.1%.

Banks also made gains. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.77% from 1.74% late Tuesday. Higher bond yields allow banks to charge more lucrative interest on mortgages and other loans. Wells Fargo rose 1%.

Industrial companies lagged the market, weighed down by Boeing and Deere & Co.

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.

Pressure is building on both sides to complete a limited "phase one" deal before the new tariffs kick in next month. But the Trump administration could push back that deadline, as it did in October, to allow more time for talks.

Investors hope that negotiations can progress enough to at least help suspend the scheduled escalation.

"There is a ticking clock," Northey said, referring to the tariffs scheduled to go into effect next month. "But at the margin right now we do seem to have progress, rather than slipping backward with respect to the 'phase one' trade deal."

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

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 0.4% as of 3:25 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 40 points, or 0.2%, to 28,162. The Nasdaq climbed 0.6%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks added 0.6%.

Major stock indexes in Europe finished mixed.

WEEKLY RECOVERY: The S&P 500 has so far regained its footing after stumbling last week. The index is on track for a 1.4% weekly gain as it continues setting records.

The Nasdaq is up 2.1% for the week, which would mark its strongest gain since the end of summer.

STALLED TRACTORS: Deere slid 4.2% 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 1.4% 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.

___

AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise contributed.

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