March 28, 2019 / 7:18 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St inches up on trade optimism but growth worries weigh

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* U.S., China make progress on trade deal

* Trade-sensitive industrials edge higher

* U.S. Q4 growth cut; corporate profits fall

* Indexes up: Dow 0.3 pct, S&P 0.3 pct, Nasdaq 0.3 pct (Updates to late afternoon)

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK, March 28 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged higher on Thursday, helped by optimism over progress in U.S.-China trade talks, but concerns about an economic slowdown after a cut in fourth-quarter GDP growth limited the day’s advance.

The domestic economy slowed more than initially thought in the fourth quarter, keeping growth in 2018 below the 3 percent annual target, and corporate profits failed to rise for the first time in more than two years, data showed.

Worries about economic growth hit markets last week after the Federal Reserve abandoned projections for any interest rate hikes this year and the U.S. Treasury yield curve inverted for the first time since 2007.

The benchmark 10-year yields rose off their 15-month lows on Thursday but the yield curve prolonged its inversion. An inverted yield could indicate that a recession is likely in one to two years.

While investors cheered the Fed’s move, they are more worried now about a weakening earnings and economic outlook, said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer of Hugh Johnson Advisors LLC in Albany, New York.

“All of a sudden we’ve started to examine whether this is the end of the cycle. My answer is, it’s not the end of the cycle - for the stock market, the economy - but there’s not much left,” he said.

U.S. officials told Reuters on Wednesday that China had made proposals in talks with the United States on a range of issues that go further than it has before, including on forced technology transfer.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Washington could lift some tariffs on Beijing, while leaving others in place as part of an enforcement mechanism on the deal.

Senior U.S. officials arrived in Beijing on Thursday for a fresh round of trade talks, which will be followed by a round in Washington next week. Trade sensitive industrial stocks rose 0.6 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 81.4 points, or 0.32 percent, to 25,706.99, the S&P 500 gained 8.45 points, or 0.30 percent, to 2,813.82 and the Nasdaq Composite added 22.27 points, or 0.29 percent, to 7,665.64.

Consumer discretionary stocks rose 0.6 percent, helped by gains in shares of PVH Corp.

The Calvin Klein owner forecast full-year adjusted profit and sales above Wall Street expectations.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.65-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.56-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 22 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 36 new highs and 39 new lows. (Additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Diane Craft)

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