May 30, 2019 / 5:23 PM / 17 days ago

US STOCKS-Wall St steadies after trade tension-driven selloff

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* Trump says U.S. doing well in trade talks with China

* Dollar General jumps after Q1 profit beat

* Keysight jumps after upbeat quarterly results

* Indexes up: Dow 0.33%, S&P 0.35%, Nasdaq 0.41% (Updates prices to afternoon)

By Amy Caren Daniel

May 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks inched higher for the first time this week on Thursday, as President Donald Trump said trade talks with China were going well, offering a glimmer of hope to markets roiled by worries that a protracted dispute would slow global growth.

A senior Chinese diplomat said provoking trade disputes is “naked economic terrorism”, even as Trump said Beijing wanted to make a deal with Washington.

The escalating dispute has weighed heavily on Wall Street this month, putting its main indexes on track for losses of at least 5% in May. The benchmark S&P 500 is now 5.8% away from its all-time high of 2,954.13 hit on May 1.

“We’re seeing just a little bit of a relief to markets after the selling over the past couple of days, whether it morphs into something more than that it’s hard to say,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago

“Markets are focused on trade talks, or lack there of. We’re starting to see more and more signs that the economy is looking more recessionary that expansionary.”

U.S. treasury yields fell on Thursday and hovered near 20-month lows as investors sought safety in government bonds.

The yield curve between three-month bills and 10-year notes remained inverted, with money markets pricing in roughly two U.S. rate cuts by the start of next year.

Interest-rate sensitive bank stocks fell 0.55%, while the broader financial sector declined 0.10%.

Technology stocks, among the worst performing S&P sectors this month, rose 0.60% and boosted markets.

The sector was helped by a 11.7% jump in Keysight Technologies after the electronic measurement equipment maker reported better-than-expected quarterly results and announced a $500 million share buyback plan.

Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and Intel Corp also rose and offered support.

Also helping sentiment was data that confirmed domestic economic growth accelerated in the first quarter, but there were signs that the temporary boost from exports and inventory accumulation was already fading.

At 12:52 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 81.69 points, or 0.33%, at 25,208.10. The S&P 500 was up 9.62 points, or 0.35%, at 2,792.64 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 31.00 points, or 0.41%, at 7,578.31.

The energy sector fell 0.85%, the most among the four major S&P sectors trading lower.

Among other stocks, Dollar General Corp jumped 7.9% after the discount retailer’s same-store sales and profit topped expectations.

Viacom Inc climbed 6.1% after report that CBS Corp is preparing for merger talks with the media company. CBS rose 3.6%.

PVH Corp plunged 14.2%, the most among S&P companies, after the Calvin Klein owner cut its annual profit forecast as it grapples with tariffs and slowing retail growth.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.51-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.35-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded one new 52-week high and 23 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 22 new highs and 96 new lows. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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