September 20, 2019 / 3:52 PM / 25 days ago

US STOCKS-Wall St gains on stimulus cues, U.S.-China trade progress

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* China cuts interest rate for 2nd month in a row

* U.S. excludes Chinese goods from existing tariffs

* Netflix drags after Evercore ISI comments

* Dow rises 0.17%, S&P up 0.11%, Nasdaq off 0.16% (Adds comment, details; updates prices)

By Ambar Warrick and Medha Singh

Sept 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks ticked higher on Friday, as cues of easing monetary policy around the globe and signs of further co-operation on Sino-U.S. trade talks kept the S&P 500 within 1% of a record high.

China cut its new one-year benchmark lending rate for the second month in a row, days after the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank reduced borrowing costs and left the door open for further monetary stimulus.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were set to end the week little changed after a rough start, sparked by attacks on Saudi oil facilities. Hopes of additional stimulus calmed investor nerves later in the week.

“Even though the Fed has cut rates, the economy actually looks pretty good,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

“The consumer is strong, the numbers that we’ve seen from a lot of economic data look good. Next week would be the end of the quarter, so we’ll probably see a little bit of buying.”

Markets are likely to show some volatility later in the session due to “quadruple witching,” where investors unwind positions in futures and options contracts before they expire.

Investors are hopeful of a de-escalation in U.S.-China trade tensions as the two sides lay the groundwork for negotiations in October, following tariff concessions last week.

On Thursday, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said dozens more Chinese products would be excluded from existing tariffs, including dog collars, some printed circuit boards used in computers, certain auto parts and Christmas tree lights.

The S&P 500 healthcare index, which has been the worst performing S&P sector this year, clocked the biggest gains among the 11 major sectors.

Merck & Co gained 1.5% as the company’s drugs Pifeltro and Delstrigo receive FDA approval for use in certain adult patients with HIV-1 who are “virally suppressed”.

At 11:35 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 45.44 points, or 0.17%, at 27,140.23, the S&P 500 was up 3.35 points, or 0.11%, at 3,010.14.

The Nasdaq Composite was down 12.70 points, or 0.16%, at 8,170.18.

Netflix Inc slipped 5.6% to a nine-month low after Evercore ISI said recent data checks painted an uncertain picture of the streaming service provider’s international subscriber growth.

It was the biggest drag on the Nasdaq and pulled the S&P communication services sector down 0.23%.

Roku Inc tumbled 14.5% after Pivotal Research started coverage of its shares with a “sell” rating.

Chipmaker Xilinx Inc dropped 5.9% as Chief Financial Officer Lorenzo Flores said he would step down, prompting Bank of America Merrill to downgrade its stock to “neutral”.

Boeing Co fell 0.8% as the Federal Aviation Administration chief said a series of steps needed to be completed before the 737 MAX could return to service.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.90-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.51-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 18 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 25 new highs and 26 new lows. (Reporting by Ambar Warrick and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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