US Stocks Gain Amid China Trade Talks

January 10, 2019 – US stocks cinched their fourth consecutive gain last night as indexes around the world build on their early 2019 rally. The gains for U.S. indexes faded slightly after President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders said Trump cut short a meeting on ending the partial shutdown of the federal government.

The last four-day winning streak for the S&P 500 ended in mid-September. The index, the benchmark for many mutual funds, retirement plans and investment professionals, has climbed 9.9 percent since Dec. 24.

Negotiators from the U.S. and China extended their trade talks to a third day, which investors took as a sign the trade discussions were productive even though the two sides didn’t announce any breakthroughs. Stocks linked to faster economic growth, such as technology and energy companies, kept rising.

Oil prices rose for the ninth day out of 10, bringing U.S. crude back above $50 a barrel for the first time in almost a month. European stocks made solid gains and Asian indexes jumped.

Wednesday’s rally thinned when Trump tweeted that his meeting with Congressional leaders was a “waste of time,” while top Democrats said Trump left after they didn’t agree to fund the border wall Trump has demanded.

The partial government shutdown has lasted almost three weeks, meaning 800,000 federal employees are temporarily out of work or working unpaid. Because many federal agencies are shuttered, the government can’t send out a variety of payments, government-backed mortgage loan applications aren’t being approved, companies can’t go public on stock exchanges and a number of economic reports watched by investors aren’t being released.

U.S. Bank Wealth Management chief equity strategist Terry Sandven said the economy looks solid, but this year is likely to be a bumpy one for stocks because investors will be very sensitive to trade threats and signs of slower growth.

“We’re in this roller-coaster mode,” he said. “We’re in a trading range that we’ll be in for the course of the year.”

The S&P 500 index climbed 10.55 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,584.96. The Dow Jones Industrial Average picked up 91.67 points, or 0.4 percent, to 23,879.12. The Nasdaq composite rose 60.08 points, or 0.9 percent, to 6,957.08. The Russell 2000 index of smaller and U.S.-focused stocks added 12.25 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,438.81.

Sandven said stocks could keep rising next week as U.S. corporations start to report their fourth-quarter results, as their profits are expected to rise compared to last year.

“You still have moderating earnings growth, non-problematic inflation and relatively low interest rates,” he said.

Experts think the trade negotiations will have to continue for months before an agreement is reached. The Trump administration wants the government of President Xi Jinping to alter its handling of technology held by foreign companies, and while Chinese officials have suggested they could revise some of their industrial plans, they say they won’t abandon larger goals that they consider a path to prosperity and global influence.

Chipmaker Micron Technology surged 5.6 percent to $35.93 and competitor Broadcom climbed 3.7 percent to $244.77. Many chip companies have manufacturing operations in China and make big chunks of their sales there. Traders felt that made them especially vulnerable in the U.S.-China spat. They were also concerned about an abrupt slowdown in the global economy and the possibility that supplies were too large.

The Philadelphia Semiconductor index sank 25 percent from early June to late December before a recent recovery.