S&P pauses with trade talks in focus; Nasdaq set to end five-day rally

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 hovered 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.

“The market is taking a breather today. It’s in a kind of wait-and-see period after a week of strong rally,” said Paul Brigandi, head of trading at Direxion Funds in New York.

“We’re awaiting some more details on the U.S.-China negotiations and we’re awaiting the jobs report. That’s giving people reason to wait and see what the next steps are.”

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

Hopes of a trade deal have driven the S&P 500 to a strong start since the beginning of the quarter and it has closed higher all of this week. The index is near its highest since Oct. 10 and 2% away from hitting an all-time high.

Dampening the mood further were worries of a global economic slowdown as data earlier in the day showed German industrial orders in February fell at their sharpest rate in more than two years.

The numbers from Europe’s biggest economy follows disappointing U.S. services sector activity and private payrolls data on Wednesday.

At 1:04 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 88.85

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