U.S. stocks climbed in early trading Monday as hopes grew for progress in resolving trade frictions between the U.S. and China. Technology companies, health care stocks and retailers drove much of the broad gains on the last day of a volatile year on Wall Street that has the market on track for its worst showing in a decade.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 15 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 2,501 as of 10 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 205 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 23,267. The Nasdaq added 45 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 6,630. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks climbed 5 points, or 0.4 per cent, 1,343.
Trading has been highly volatile in December, capping a year of turbulence for markets. The major indexes closed last week with their first weekly gain in what’s been an otherwise painful month. The indexes are still all down around 10 per cent for the month and on track for their worst December since 1931.
US-CHINA TRADE: Investors drew encouragement from a tweet from President Donald Trump on Sunday, in which the president said he had a “long and very good call” with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump added: “Deal is moving along very well. If made, it will be very comprehensive, covering all subjects, areas and points of dispute. Big progress being made.” Meanwhile, the official Xinhua News Agency cited a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying that “China stands ready to work with the United States to move forward the China-U.S. ties which are underpinned by co-ordination, co-operation and stability.”
Stocks also got a boost in early December when the U.S. and China agreed to a truce on trade, but then plunged when it was unclear what exactly both sides had agreed upon.
LOUSY YEAR: The S&P 500 index, the market’s main benchmark, is on track for a loss of 6.5 per cent this year, or 5.2 per cent once dividends are included. The last time the index fell for the year on that basis was in 2008 during the financial crisis, when it lost 37 per cent. The S&P 500 posted tiny losses in 2011 and 2015, but eked out small gains in both years once dividends were included.
THAT HEALTHY FEELING: Health care stocks were among the biggest gainers. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals rose 2.4 per cent to $371.40.
TECH RALLY: Big-name technology companies, a big driver of the market’s gains before things deteriorated in October, also rose. Advanced Micro Devices picked up 2.6 per cent to $18.29.
READY TO SHOP: Traders bid up shares in department store chains and other retailers. Best Buy gained 2.1 per cent to $52.41.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil gained 0.9 per cent to $45.73 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international prices, rose 1.3 per cent to $53.90 a barrel in London.
BOND YIELDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.73 per cent.
CURRENCIES: The dollar dipped to 109.99 yen from 110.41 yen on Friday. The euro weakened to $1.1439 from $1.1442.
OVERSEAS: In Europe, the CAC 40 of France rose 1.1 per cent, ending the year down about 11 per cent. Britain’s FTSE 100 closed down 0.1 per cent for an annual loss of 12.5 per cent. Germany’s DAX, which was closed Monday, has been one of the worst-performing European indexes. It ended in a bear market, down 22 per cent from a high in January and 18 per cent from the start of the year.
Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 1.3 per cent, while India’s Sensex gained 0.2 per cent. Australia’s S&P ASX/200’s benchmark slipped 0.1 per cent. Most other markets were closed for the New Year holiday.
Alex Veiga, The Associated Press