S&P 500, Dow advance with trade talks in focus

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The benchmark S&P 500 stock index edged higher, nearing a six-month high on Thursday, with losses in technology stocks countered by gains in Boeing Co and Facebook Inc as investors waited for more clarity on the U.S.-China trade talks.

Negotiations continued in Washington after meetings last week in Beijing, as the two countries worked toward resolving their long-standing trade dispute, which has cast a shadow over global economic growth.

U.S. President Donald Trump is set to meet Vice Premier Liu He, who is leading the Chinese side in the talks, on Thursday.

Hopes of a trade deal have helped fuel the S&P 500’s strong start to the second quarter. It has reached its highest level since Oct. 9 and is only 1.75% below its all-time closing high.

Also helping investor sentiment, data from the U.S. Labor Department showed that jobless claims fell to a 49-year low last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength.

“You look at the jobless claims number, you’re seeing potential progress on a trade deal,” said Shannon Saccocia, chief investment officer at Boston Private. “That’s why there’s a little bit more of a pick-up here.”

Investors will get a clearer picture of the U.S. labor market on Friday, when the non-farm payrolls report is expected.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 166.5 points, or 0.64%, to 26,384.63, the S&P 500 gained 5.99 points, or 0.21%, to 2,879.39 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.77 points, or 0.05%, to 7,891.78.

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 4, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher. Conversely, the technology sector fell 0.4%.

Gains in Facebook and Boeing shares helped push the S&P 500 forward.

Facebook rose 1.4%, contributing to a 0.7%

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