December 26, 2019 / 6:04 PM / 8 months ago

US STOCKS-Nasdaq, S&P hit fresh highs on trade deal hopes, Amazon boost

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* China says in close contact with Washington on trade pact

* Tesla gains as Wedbush hikes price target

* Amazon gains on report of robust U.S. holiday online sales

* Indexes rise: 0.17%, S&P 0.27%, Nasdaq 0.47% (Updates prices)

By Manas Mishra

Dec 26 (Reuters) - The Nasdaq breached the 9,000-point mark for the first time and the S&P 500 hit a fresh record high on Thursday, boosted by optimism over U.S.-China trade relations and gains in after a report signaled robust online holiday sales.

Shares of the retail giant rose 3.2% after Mastercard’s report showed U.S. shoppers spent more online during the holiday shopping season, with e-commerce sales hitting a record high.

Amazon lifted the consumer discretionary index by 0.8%, the most among the 11 major S&P sectors.

“The important part is that the online sales were much stronger than expected. The brick-and-mortar were less than expected, so the online sales, and principally Amazon, saved the day,” said John Conlon, director, equity strategy at People’s United Advisors.

Traders returned from the Christmas break to Beijing’s reaffirmation that it was in close contact with Washington about the initial trade agreement, which is widely expected to be signed in early January.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday confirmed the pact would be formalized at a signing ceremony, but did not disclose a date or location.

Hopes of a breakthrough in the prolonged trade war, combined with a loose monetary policy and robust domestic data, have powered U.S. stocks to record highs in the past few weeks.

The S&P 500, which has touched all-time intraday highs in two out of three sessions this week alone, is about one percentage point short of its best year since 1997.

The Nasdaq was on track for an 11 session winning streak.

At 12:46 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 49.82 points, or 0.17%, at 28,565.27 and the S&P 500 was up 8.72 points, or 0.27%, at 3,232.10. The Nasdaq Composite was up 42.17 points, or 0.47%, at 8,995.06.

Trading volumes are expected to remain thin this week.

A Labor Department report on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week, indicating resilience in the labor market.

The energy sector gained 0.4%, supported by higher oil prices.

Tesla Inc rose 1.2% as Wedbush boosted its price target on the electric-car maker’s stock, partly on expectations of strong U.S. demand for Model 3 sedans.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.53-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.09-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 25 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 103 new highs and 17 new lows. (Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Shounak Dasgupta)

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