Dow set to attempt a run at all-time high as stock-market focus shifts from Iran to U.S.-China trade

U.S. stocks swept to record highs once again Thursday as investors focused on progress on the trade pact with China due to be signed next week and amid an easing of concerns about war in the Middle East.

How did benchmarks perform?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.46% gained 211.81 points, or 0.7%, to close at 28,956.90, while the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.29% rose 21.65 points, or 0.7%, to 3,274.70. The Nasdaq Composite Index SPX, -0.29% added 74.18 points to finish at 9,203.43, a gain of 0.8%.

All three benchmarks set new intraday and closing highs, with the Dow nearing the psychologically important 29,000 threshold.

Read: The S&P 500 is now more overvalued than ever, per this measure

What drove the market?

China’s top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, will lead a delegation to Washington next week to sign a phase-one trade deal, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing China’s Commerce Ministry.

Trade negotiations have been a driver for market moves for more than a year because President Trump’s imposition of import tariffs has slowed global economic growth.

The progress on China trade talks has helped, at least momentarily, to put the threat of conflict between the Washington and Tehran on the back burner after the Islamic Republic late Tuesday launched a missile strike on U.S. military bases in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of one of its top generals last week.

“We’ve had several data points that have provided a bit more clarity, so at the margins investors have some more runway,” said Jack Janasiewicz, portfolio manager at Natixis Advisors, in an interview. “We’ve got the phase-one deal that sounds like it’s going to be signed next week, global growth numbers that have been OK and highly accommodative central banks around the world,”

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