March 1, 2019 / 3:45 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St bounces on trade optimism, tame inflation data

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* Core PCE rises 0.2 percent in December

* Gap soars after analysts praise Old Navy split

* Foot Locker jumps on Q4 same-store sales beat

* Indexes rise: Dow 0.82 pct, S&P 0.80 pct, Nasdaq 0.75 pct (Updates to open)

By Shreyashi Sanyal

March 1 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s main indexes bounced on Friday after data showed U.S. inflationary pressures remained tame and as strong economic data from China helped feed into optimism around trade.

The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, rose 0.2 percent, after excluding volatile components such as food and energy, following a similar gain in November.

The Commerce Department also said U.S. personal income fell for the first time in more than three years in January, pointing to a moderate growth in consumer spending.

Earlier, a private survey showed China’s factory activity contracted for a third straight month in February but at a slower pace, helping lift global equities.

In contrast, data showed February U.S. manufacturing activity dropped to its lowest since November 2016.

“It’s a China type day which is giving investors confidence that all is well in China and that fear is probably off the table,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at New Vines Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

Of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors, nine were higher.

The consumer discretionary sector gained 1.14 percent, helped by gains in shares of Nike Inc, Gap Inc and Foot Locker.

Shares of Foot Locker climbed 8.82 percent after the footwear retailer handily beat quarterly same store sales estimates and helped drive a 1.9 percent gain in supplier Nike Inc shares.

Other sports retailers also rose, with Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc up 3.4 percent and Hibbett Sports Inc 4.2 percent higher.

At 9:44 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 212.12 points, or 0.82 percent, at 26,128.12, the S&P 500 was up 22.32 points, or 0.80 percent, at 2,806.81 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 56.85 points, or 0.75 percent, at 7,589.39.

The benchmark S&P 500 index has risen 11 percent since the beginning of the year, bolstered by progress in trade talks and the Federal Reserve’s cautious stance on interest rates.

After President Donald Trump delayed a deadline that would have triggered higher tariffs on Chinese imports, Bloomberg reported on Thursday afternoon that a summit between Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to sign for a final trade deal could happen as soon as mid-March.

Gap Inc surged 18.6 percent after the company said it would separate its better-performing Old Navy brand and shutter about 230 stores of its struggling namesake apparel business.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc fell 3.9 percent, the most on the S&P, after brokerage Baird cut its price target for shares of the drug retailer.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 3.32-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 2.70-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 41 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 53 new highs and 12 new lows. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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