S&P notches fifth straight day of gains on U.S.-China trade optimism

Stock benchmarks closed Wednesday in positive territory, but off their intraday highs, as investors reacted to upbeat comments on U.S.-China trade talks but weighed a shaky private-sector employment report.

What did the major indexes do?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.15%  rose 39 points, or roughly 0.2%, to 26,218.13, but had been as high as 26,282. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.21%  gained 6.16 points, or 0.6%, to 2,873.40. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.60% added 46.86 points, or 0.6%, to 7,895.55. The S&P had been up as much as 18 points, while the Nasdaq rose roughly 90 points at its peak.  DJIA, +0.15%

Wednesday’s session left the S&P 500 just 2% below its all-time closing high of 2,930.75, hit on Sept. 20.

What drove the market?

U.S. stocks followed the lead of global equities, which rallied on a report over progress with trade talks between the U.S. and China. “Ninety percent of the deal is done, but the last 10% is the hardest part, it’s the trickiest part and it will require trade-offs on both sides,” said Myron Brilliant, executive vice president for international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, adding that talks are in the “endgame stage,” according to the Financial Times.

High-level discussions that began in Beijing last week were set to resume Wednesday in Washington, as China’s Vice Premier Liu He prepared to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The parties hope to set the stage for a summit between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, where a final trade agreement could be signed as early as this month, though the timing of a deal remains uncertain.

Meanwhile, the Caixin China services purchasing managers index, which gauges the country’s private sector, rose to a 14-month

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