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* China announces tariff exemptions, Trump open to interim deal
* August retail sales rise 0.4% vs forecast of 0.2%
* Dow & S&P 500 trading within 1 percent below all-time highs
* Dow rises 0.21%, S&P 500 off 0.04%, Nasdaq down 0.2% (Updates to late afternoon, changes dateline, byline)
By Stephen Culp
NEW YORK, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Wall Street was mixed on Friday, with the S&P 500 and the Dow hovering just below all-time highs as cautious optimism regarding easing U.S.-China trade tensions was held in check by a drop in Apple stock.
Tariff-vulnerable industrials helped keep the blue chip Dow in positive territory, which was on track for its eighth straight daily advance, its longest winning streak since May 2018.
All three major U.S. stock indexes looked set to post their third straight weekly gains, capping a week that saw signs of a potential thaw in the trade war between the world’s two largest economies that has gripped markets for months.
Apple Inc was the biggest drag on the major stock averages, dropping 1.8% after Goldman Sachs cut its price target for the iPhone maker’s shares.
Beijing announced it would exempt some U.S. agricultural products from additional tariffs after President Donald Trump suggested he could be open to an interim deal, the latest in a series of conciliatory gestures by both sides of the trade war ahead of next month’s negotiations in Washington.
“We’ve had these small concessions back and forth, which at minimum gives investors some confidence that things are moving in the right direction,” said Joseph Sroka, chief investment officer at NovaPoint in Atlanta. “I don’t think the Chinese are going to roll over on trade but they recognize there is a mutual benefit to keep the U.S. from escalating the trade war.”
On the economic front, U.S. retail sales increased in August at twice the rate analysts expected, according the Commerce Department, suggesting that strong consumer spending will continue to support the longest-ever U.S. economic expansion.
Ebbing trade jitters and upbeat retail sales data helped U.S. Treasury yields reach multi-week highs.
“Investors will reevaluate their appetite for equities at the next big catalyst event, which will be the Fed meeting,” Sroka added.
Indeed, the U.S. Federal Reserve is widely expected to cut interest rates by 25 basis points at the conclusion of its monetary policy meeting next week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 56.58 points, or 0.21%, to 27,239.03, the S&P 500 lost 1.06 points, or 0.04%, to 3,008.51 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 16.24 points, or 0.2%, to 8,178.23.
Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, seven were in the red, with real estate suffering the largest percentage loss.
Materials and financial stocks were the biggest gainers, up 1.3% and 1.0%, respectively.
Chipmaker Broadcom Inc slipped 2.5% after the company missed quarterly revenue estimates late Thursday and said that while semiconductor demand has likely hit bottom, the timing of a recovery remains uncertain.
Progressive Corp fell 5.3% after the insurer reported a 36% year-on-year drop in August net income.
Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc plunged 12.1% after founder Thomas Sullivan told Bloomberg he was holding off on plans to take the company private.
Tyson Foods Inc, the largest U.S. meat processor, advanced 2.3% on China’s tariff exemption announcement.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.02-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.38-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 19 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 77 new highs and 19 new lows. (Reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)