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U.S. stocks notch solid gains as China stabilizes currency

New York Stock Exchange
Wall Street rebounded Tuesday after its worst trading day of the year.
(Bryan R. Smith / AFP/Getty Images)

Stocks closed broadly higher Tuesday as Wall Street regained its footing the day after the market had its biggest decline of the year.

The bounce pushed the Dow Jones industrial average up more than 300 points and ended a six-day losing streak for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, though that benchmark index recouped only a little more than a third of its Monday losses.

China’s decision to stabilize its currency put investors in a buying mood. The move helped allay some of the market’s jitters over the escalating U.S.-China trade war at a time when investors are anxious about falling U.S. corporate profits and a global economy that is showing signs of slowing.

“We’re getting a nice move here, but if you look at what the tone of the market might be for the next few days, it still could be under some pressure,” said Jeff Kravetz, regional investment director for U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “Right now investors are quite nervous, and the reason for the nervousness is not only the trade issue, but we’re also seeing weakening economic data, not only here, but overseas.”

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The S&P 500 index rose 37.03 points, or 1.3%, to 2,881.77. It dropped 3% on Monday, its biggest loss since December.

The Dow climbed 311.78 points, or 1.2%, to 26,029.52. The Nasdaq composite advanced 107.23 points, or 1.4%, to 7,833.27. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies ticked up 14.67 points, or 1%, to 1,502.09.

Stock indexes in Europe finished sharply lower.

Investors have grown more nervous about the impact that the U.S.-China trade war could have on the economy and corporate profits. The conflict heated from a simmer to a boil last week, even as both sides resumed negotiations.

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But China’s decision to let its currency stabilize Tuesday suggests Beijing might hold off from aggressively allowing the yuan to weaken as a way to respond to U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods. That offered some hope that the sides might try to keep the situation from escalating further.

“That’s a big part of why markets are not down big again today,” Kravetz said.

Technology stocks, which bore the brunt of Monday’s sell-off, accounted for a big share of the gains Tuesday. Apple and Microsoft each rose 1.9%. The two tech giants get significant revenue from China and have been highly sensitive to swings in the trade dispute.

Financial companies also helped lift the market. Wells Fargo gained 1.7% and Bank of America rose 1.2%.

Solid earnings results helped lift other sectors. Animal health company Zoetis climbed 7.6%, leading healthcare stocks higher.

Retailers, communications services companies and industrial firms also notched solid gains. Foot Locker rose 3.4%. Facebook advanced 1.5%. Aircraft components maker TransDigm jumped 13.7% after raising its profit forecast and delivering solid quarterly earnings.

Energy stocks dropped along with the price of crude oil.

Bond yields had an early gain, but then fell after a government report suggesting a cooling U.S. job market. The yield on the 10-year Treasury briefly rose to 1.77% but then declined to 1.72%, down from Monday’s 1.73%.

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Companies’ quarterly earnings report season is in its final stretch, and results haven’t been as bad as initially feared, though they’re still down from year-earlier levels. Profit for companies in the S&P 500 is now expected to shrink roughly 1%. That’s better than the nearly 3% drop expected earlier. More than three-quarters of the S&P 500 companies have reported financial results.

International Flavors & Fragrance shares tumbled 15.9% after the company issued a disappointing earnings report and trimmed its forecast.

Take-Two Interactive Software jumped 8% on a surge in sales of “Grand Theft Auto” and other popular video games. The company, which also makes the “Red Dead Redemption” games, beat Wall Street’s quarterly profit forecasts and gave investors a surprisingly good sales forecast for the current quarter. The firm more than regained the ground it lost Monday after President Trump and some other politicians associated violent games with mass shootings.

Novartis fell 2.8% after the Food and Drug Administration disclosed that it is reviewing the accuracy of data on Zolgensma, a drug for treating spinal muscular atrophy in children. Novartis is the parent company of AveXis, which makes the drug. Several other drugmakers also fell. Mallinckrodt tumbled 12%, McKesson fell 3.9%, AmerisourceBergen slid 5.2% and Teva Pharmaceuticals slumped 9.8%.

Benchmark crude oil fell $1.06 to settle at $53.63 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, fell 87 cents to close at $58.94 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline fell 3 cents to $1.69 a gallon. Heating oil declined 2 cents to $1.82 a gallon. Natural gas rose 4 cents to $2.11 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose $7.80 to $1,472.40 an ounce. Silver rose 6 cents to $16.41 an ounce. Copper rose 1 cent to $2.55 a pound.


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