Wall St. turns higher as Trump likely to delay auto tariffs

© Reuters. Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York

By Amy Caren Daniel and Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks gained ground on Wednesday after a report that President Donald Trump was set to delay a decision to impose auto tariffs, offering respite to markets worried about slowing global growth after a batch of weak economic data.

The deadline to decide on tariffs is May 18, but Trump is expected to delay it by up to six months, sources told Reuters. Automakers Ford Motor (NYSE:) Co, and General Motors Co (NYSE:) gained about 1% on the news.

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he will likely travel to Beijing soon to continue trade talks with China.

“We got some support from Mnuchin comments and then auto tariffs, that is a positive development as there was fear that tariffs would stretch to auto imports,” said Paul Brigandi, managing director of portfolio management at Direxion Funds in New York.

Concerns that the trade dispute could be protracted and may impact the global economy have kept investors on edge over the past couple of days, and has put the benchmark S&P index 3.6% below its all-time high reached two weeks ago.

“The truth is that we are closer to a trade deal than none. Investors around the world want to see a deal happen, they want to see finality,” said Ken Polcari, managing principal at Butcher Joseph Asset Management in New York.

“If the news around trade remains uncertain, the market does not know how to price that in, which is why you see markets thrashing around every time there is headline to drive the tone.”

Stocks came under pressure earlier in the day after U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell in April as households cut back on purchases of

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