S&P 500 edges higher with trade talks in focus

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The benchmark S&P 500 stock index edged higher to reach near six-month highs 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.

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

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.

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

Hopes of a trade deal have helped fuel the S&P 500’s strong start to the second quarter. The index has closed higher each day this week so far. It has reached its highest level since Oct. 9 and is only 1.8% below its all-time closing high.

Yet a lack of further milestones on trade kept some investors on the sidelines on Thursday.

“Trade has been in the news the last couple of days, but there hasn’t been a lot of other market-moving stuff, so the rally has backed off somewhat,” said James Ragan, director of wealth management research at D.A. Davidson in Seattle.

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

Facebook rose 1.6%, contributing to a 0.7% gain in the communication services sector, after brokerage Guggenheim upgraded the social media company’s stock to “buy” from “neutral.”

Boeing climbed 3.1%, adding the most to gains on the Dow and the S&P industrial index, which rose 0.5%.

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