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Wall Street rides trade optimism to record highs

US stocks inched to fresh record highs on Friday, as investors remained optimistic about improving trade relations between Washington and Beijing in the run-up to the holiday season.

All three major stock indexes have been trading at record levels for over a week, boosted by the announcement of an initial U.S.-China trade agreement and upbeat economic indicators.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday the long-awaited trade deal had been penned down and would be signed in early January, dispelling fears of another escalation in the tariff dispute.

Beijing, however, later dodged questions about specific details about the agreement.

“While we’re waiting to hear the details of a deal, what we’re not doing is increasing tariffs,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York. “We’re not escalating, and that’s what the market cares about.”

The S&P 500 hit a record high for the seventh straight session on Friday, its longest streak since October 2017. With gains of nearly 28% this year, the benchmark index is eyeing its best annual performance since 2013.

The Dow Industrials and Nasdaq touched all-time highs for the second straight session.

Markets are likely to become volatile on Friday due to “quadruple witching,” where investors unwind positions in futures and options contracts before their expiration.

At 10:12 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 82.01 points, or 0.29%, at 28,458.97, the S&P 500 was up 11.94 points, or 0.37%, at 3,217.31 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 20.43 points, or 0.23%, at 8,907.65.

The Commerce Department said on Friday consumer spending rose 0.4% last month, in line with expectations, as households stepped up purchases of motor vehicles and spent more on healthcare.

Nike Inc fell 1.7% after the world’s largest sportswear maker reported lower-than-expected growth in revenue from North America.

Boeing Co’s biggest supplier, Spirit AeroSystems Inc dropped 1.4% after saying it would temporarily halt production of 737 MAX parts beginning Jan. 1. Boeing shares fell 1.0%.

Carnival Corp rose 8.5% and was the biggest percentage gainer on the S&P 500, after the cruise operator forecast a 2020 profit largely above estimates.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.85-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and 1.13-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 66 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 110 new highs and 21 new lows.

Source: Economic Times