August 16, 2018 / 6:44 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St rebounds as Walmart beats, trade worries ease

* Dow set to post best gain in more than 4 months

* Walmart surges on strong results, lifts retailers

* China, U.S. to hold trade talks this month

* Boeing, Caterpillar boost industrials

* JC Penney plunges on earnings miss

* Indexes up: Dow 1.70 pct, S&P 0.95 pct, Nasdaq 0.67 pct (Updates to late afternoon, changes dateline to NEW YORK, changes byline)

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK, Aug 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks bounced back on Thursday, with the Dow setting a course for its best day in over four months, as a series of positive earnings and waning trade jitters girded investor confidence.

All three major U.S. indexes were up after selling off on Wednesday. The S&P 500 was on track for its biggest percentage gain since June 1.

Walmart Inc shares jumped 9.6 after it topped earnings estimates and posted its best same-store sales growth in a decade.

The world’s largest retailer’s upbeat report lifted U.S. retail stocks and the S&P 500 retail index was up 0.6 percent.

Industrials led the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s advance as waning trade tensions gave relief to tariff-vulnerable companies such as Boeing and Caterpillar, up 4.3 percent and 3.0 percent, respectively.

The S&P 500 industrial sector advanced 1.2 percent.

Escalating tariff jitters cooled down on news that Beijing will send a delegation to Washington to help resolve the growing conflict between the world’s two largest economies.

“Focus on the meat and potatoes and not the peas,” said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at Voya Investment Management in New York. “(Earnings are) extraordinary. This is the best economic backdrop in 30 years. Why would I care about the perennial trade spat?”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 426.73 points, or 1.7 percent, to 25,589.14, the S&P 500 gained 26.85 points, or 0.95 percent, to 2,845.22 and the Nasdaq Composite added 52.47 points, or 0.67 percent, to 7,826.58.

All 11 major sectors of the S&P 500 were in positive territory.

Second-quarter reporting season is near the finish line. With 463 of S&P 500 companies having posted earnings, 79.3 percent have exceeded analyst estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Cisco Systems Inc stock was up 3.8 percent after beating Wall Street revenue and profit targets, giving a boost the broader tech sector.

Cyber security firm Symantec Corp ended a five-day slide, rising 6.0 percent after hedge fund Starboard Value LP took a 5.8 percent stake in the company.

Bucking the upbeat retail trend, shares of J.C. Penney Co Inc dropped below $2 for the first time, plunging 24.7 percent after the department store chain posted disappointing results and forecast a worse-than-expected full-year loss.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 3.53-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.68-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 32 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 79 new highs and 57 new lows. (Reporting by Stephen Culp Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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