Stocks edge toward new records ahead of signing of U.S.-China trade pact

U.S. stocks rose at the start of trade Wednesday, and are within striking distance of fresh all-time highs, as investors await the signing of a partial Sino-American trade pact later in the session, amid a rollout of quarterly corporate earnings results.

The hoped for improvement in U.S. – China trade relations might not be immediately achieved though, with key issues left unresolved, including existing tariffs and efforts to impose restrictions on China’s Huawei Technologies Co.

How are benchmarks performing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.40% rose 57 points, or 0.2%, at 29,005, the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.34% gained 7 points, or 0.2% to 3,290, while the Nasdaq Composite index COMP, +0.42% gained 24 points, or 0.3% to trade at 9,274.

On Tuesday, the Dow closed up 32.62 points, or 0.1%, at 28,939.67 while the S&P 500 index lost 4.98 points, or 0.2%, to finish at 3,283.15. The Nasdaq Composite Index ended with a loss of 22.60 points, or 0.2%, at 9,251.33.

What’s drove the market?

U.S. and Chinese delegates are expected to sign a long-awaited preliminary trade pact at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time at the White House, but doubts remain about the substance of the deal and whether it can lead to a genuine detente between the global superpowers. According to the Wall Street Journal, the first phase of the trade deal will include roughly $200 billion in Chinese purchases of American goods and services over the next two years.

However, tariffs on some $360 billion of annual Chinese goods will remain in place, with reports by Bloomberg News of that development on Tuesday causing markets to trim strong gains and turn negative.

The text of the trade deal is expected to be released later Wednesday morning, which will also be pored over by investors, who view a

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