Wall Street rides trade optimism, healthy consumer spending to record highs


(Reuters) – The S&P 500 extended its run of record highs for the seventh straight session on Friday, its longest streak in over two years, as investor optimism continued on improving U.S.-China trade relations and strength in domestic consumer spending.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 17, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

All three major stock indexes were on pace to end the week at record levels, boosted by the announcement of an initial U.S.-China trade agreement last Friday and upbeat economic indicators.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday he “Had a very good talk” with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the long-awaited deal. (bit.ly/34EMt6s)

Trump’s comments came a day after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the treaty would be signed in early January, dispelling fears of another escalation in the tariff dispute.

“What investors like is that we seem very, very close to signing a phase one deal,” said Michael Geraghty, equity strategist at Cornerstone Capital Group.

“The details will be important and interesting, but I think for investors, what’s important right now is that finally China and the U.S. seem to be on the same page.”

Consumer spending, a major focus for investors as the key to U.S. economic growth, rose 0.4% last month, adding to a string of upbeat data that have helped put behind recession fears, which had dogged markets earlier this year.

(GRAPHIC: S&P 500 Records – here(5).jpg)

At 11:42 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 121.16 points, or 0.43%, at 28,498.12, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 18.46 points, or 0.58%, at 3,223.83 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 37.73 points, or 0.42%, at 8,924.95.

The Dow Industrials .DJI and Nasdaq .IXIC touched all-time highs for the second straight session.

Markets are likely to be volatile on Friday due to “quadruple witching,” where investors unwind positions in futures and options contracts before their expiration.

Nike Inc (NKE.N) fell nearly 2%, after the world’s largest sportswear maker reported lower-than-expected growth in revenue from North America.

Carnival Corp (CCL.N) rose 7.3%, and was the biggest percentage gainer on the S&P 500, after the cruise operator forecast a 2020 profit largely above estimates.

U.S. Steel Corp (X.N) tumbled 8.5%, after forecasting a bigger-than-expected fourth-quarter loss.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 2.15-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.28-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 71 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 138 new highs and 28 new lows.

Reporting by Uday Sampath and C Nivedita in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Shounak Dasgupta

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