US STOCKS-Wall Street rises on U.S.-EU trade relations optimism

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street’s major indexes rose on Thursday as reports that the United States and the European Union may agree to withdraw auto tariffs fostered optimism on international trade relations among investors.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would back lowering EU tariffs on U.S. car imports. An industry source told Reuters that the U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, had mentioned to German auto executives that U.S. President Donald Trump could abandon threatened tariffs on imported European cars if in return the European Union scrapped duties on U.S. cars.

U.S. stocks added to gains in the last hour of trading after having slightly pared gains upon the release of minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s June meeting.

The minutes reflected confidence among the Federal Reserve’s policymakers in the strength of the U.S. economy and its plans for future interest-rate hikes. In the June meeting, the Fed increased rates for the second time this year, and it has signaled that additional increases are likely.

Technology stocks led gains on the S&P 500, with shares of several chipmakers rising. The Philadelphia semiconductor index rose 2.7 percent.

“The fact that EU and U.S. officials are discussing proposals to eliminate certain tariffs on auto imports, that’s helping sentiment today and calming fears of an escalating trade war,” said Ryan Larson, head of U.S. equity trading at RBC Global Asset Management in Chicago.

Still, the Trump administration’s tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports are due to go into effect at 0401 GMT on Friday. Beijing said it would respond immediately and in equal measure on U.S. goods ranging from cars to soybeans.

There was no evidence of any last-minute negotiations between U.S. and Chinese officials, business sources in Washington and Beijing said.

Investors, however, suggested that Friday’s impending

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