US-China put trade war on hold

Posted at 12:14 PM, May 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-21 12:14:59-04


AP Markets Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Industrial and technology companies led stocks to solid gains Monday after the U.S. and China appeared to make significant progress in trade talks. That helped ease concerns among investors that the world's two biggest economies might be headed for a trade war.

After another round of talks, the two countries agreed not to place tariffs on goods imported from the other. The Chinese government said it will buy more U.S. goods, including energy and agricultural products, while Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. postponed its proposal to put tariffs on up to $150 billion in goods from China. The two sides gave no indication of how much progress they had made toward ending their dispute entirely and both said hostilities could increase again.

Mark Hackett, chief of investment research at Nationwide Investment Management, said investors overreacted to the possibility of a trade war and they may be slowly learning to take a more patient approach with statements by the Trump administration and other nations, which is a good thing, Hackett says, because future administrations may borrow from Trump's aggressive style.

"Treating Trump literally is destructive for investors," he said. "There's a lot of these issues where there are going to be hyperbolic statements made in the public sphere by both sides."

The S&P 500 index climbed 20.04 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,733.01. The Dow Jones industrial average rose as much as 371 points during the morning and finished with a gain of 298.20 points, or 1.2 percent, to 25,013.29. The Nasdaq composite gained 39.70 points, or 0.5 percent, to 7,394.04. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks set another record close as it jumped 10.81 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,637.44.

All 11 sectors in the S&P 500 index finished higher. Among industrials, Boeing gained 3.6 percent to $363.92 and construction equipment maker Caterpillar rose 2.1 percent to $158.92. In the financial sector, Bank of New York Mellon added 1.3 percent to $57.72 and JPMorgan Chase rose 0.9 percent to $112.15.

Trade disputes have occupied a lot of investors' attention for the last two months. Stocks have rallied on signs progress was being made, only to fall back when the situation appeared to worsen. Hackett said Wall Street could get over its trade worries relatively quickly if talks go well.

If that happens, he said stocks could be set for further gains because they are still below their early 2018 highs and analysts expect stronger earnings growth, which makes stock prices seem less expensive.

General Electric rose 1.9 percent to $15.26 after announcing that its train engine division will combine with railroad equipment maker Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies in deal worth $11.1 billion. It's the latest step by GE's CEO, John Flannery, to break off parts of the conglomerate. GE will get $2.9 billion in cash and will own 50.1 percent of the combined company, and the deal will help it narrow its business down to the aviation, health care and energy industries.

Wabtec gained 3.5 percent to $98.55.

Chipmakers rallied after Micron Technology raised its profit and revenue forecasts for the fiscal third quarter. Micron jumped 3.9 percent to $55.48 while Intel picked up 1.5 percent to $54.32 and Lam Research added 2.2 percent to $199.87.

That contributed to a broad rally in technology stocks. Microsoft gained 1.3 percent to $97.60 and Google's parent company Alphabet rose 1.3 percent $1,084.01.

Fifth Third Bancorp is buying Chicago's MB Financial for about $4.7 billion, mostly in stock. The deal values MB at $54.20 per share, and its stock rose 12.9 percent to $49.28 while Fifth Third tumbled 7.9 percent to $30.90.

Investment manager Blackstone agreed to buy LaSalle Hotel Properties for $33.50 a share, or $3.7 billion in cash. LaSalle jumped 5.4 percent to $33.61 while Blackstone rose along with other financial firms and gained 1.6 percent to $31.79.

Health care companies finished a bit higher overall but didn't do as well as the rest of the market. Biotechnology companies lost groups as Celgene dropped 4.7 percent to $74.69 and Alexion Pharmaceuticals fell 1.4 percent to $119.37.

The dollar rose to 111.11 yen from 110.68 yen late Friday. The euro dipped to $1.1772 from $1.1773.

Energy companies advanced as benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 1.3 percent to $72.24 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oil, added 0.9 percent to $79.22 per barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline added 1 percent to $2.26 a gallon and heating oil rose 0.4 percent to $2.27 a gallon. Natural gas fell 1.3 percent to $2.81 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold was little changed at $1,290.90 an ounce. Silver rose 0.4 percent to $16.52 an ounce. Copper picked up 1.1 percent to $3.10 a pound.

Bond prices held steady. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note stayed at 3.06 percent.

The British FTSE 100 gained 1 percent and France's CAC 40 rose 0.5 percent. The German market was closed for a holiday. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.3 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.6 percent and South Korea's Kospi added 0.2 percent.


AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at . His work can be found at

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