Stocks rise broadly; S&P 500 ends three-day losing streak

The New York Stock Exchange building in lower Manhattan.
(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

Stocks closed broadly higher Wednesday amid renewed hopes on Wall Street that a U.S.-China trade deal may be nearing despite tough recent talk from President Trump.

The gains snapped a three-day losing streak for the Standard & Poor’s 500, though the benchmark index remains on track for a weekly decline.

The market has swung sharply for months on every hint about talks between the world’s two largest economies, and the latest flip-flop followed a Bloomberg News report saying U.S. negotiators expect a “Phase 1” trade agreement to be completed before U.S. tariffs are set to rise on Chinese products Dec. 15.


The report came the day after Trump said he wouldn’t mind waiting until after the 2020 elections for a deal, a remark that officials reportedly called off the cuff but that nevertheless sent markets skidding.

Healthcare and financial stocks drove much of Wednesday’s rally. Energy companies notched the biggest gain, following a 4.2% increase in the price of U.S. crude oil.

The S&P 500 climbed 19.56 points, or 0.6%, to 3,112.76. The index is still down 0.9% for the week.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 146.97 points, or 0.5%, to 27,649.78. The Nasdaq composite rose 46.03 points, or 0.5%, to 8,566.67. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks advanced 11.27 points, or 0.7%, to 1,613.90.

Treasury yields also recouped some of their sharp drops from earlier in the week. Rising optimism on trade means less demand for safe investments, and when prices for Treasurys fall, their yields rise.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.77% from Tuesday’s 1.71%. It was at 1.83% on Monday.


The stock gains are the first this month. The recent dip followed a strong November rally that brought major indexes to all-time highs.

Surprisingly good company earnings and solid economic data have helped keep investors in a buying mood this fall against a backdrop of optimism that the U.S. and China were nearing a trade deal.

Trump has been pushing ahead on trade disputes all around the world recently. On Tuesday, he proposed tariffs on $2.4 billion in French products in retaliation for a tax on global tech giants, including Google, Amazon and Facebook. That follows a threat Monday to raise tariffs on steel and aluminum from Argentina and Brazil.

The trade war has hurt manufacturers and weighed on economic growth around the world. Central banks have cut interest rates and unloaded stimulus to help spur growth. In the United States, a strong job market is helping to prop up the economy.

A Wednesday report on the U.S. job market came in surprisingly weak, which could raise doubts about what’s been the strongest part of the economy. Private employers added just 67,000 jobs last month, according to payroll processor ADP. That’s roughly half of October’s hiring pace, weaker than economists expected.

The more comprehensive jobs report from the Labor Department will arrive Friday, and it will probably have a bigger effect on the stock market.

A separate report showed that U.S. services industries grew last month but not as quickly as economists expected.

Traders shrugged off the mixed economic data Wednesday.

“This market is trading under the assumption that global growth has put a bottom in and is in the process of recovering, and nothing in the data we’ve seen today disputes that conclusion,” said Scott Ladner, chief investment officer at Horizon Investments.

A rebound in the price of crude fueled oil-related stocks. Energy stocks in the S&P 500 rose 1.6% — the biggest gain among the 11 sectors that make up the index. Halliburton advanced 4.2%. Devon Energy climbed 4.6%.

Benchmark U.S. crude climbed $2.33, or 4.2%, to $58.43 a barrel as members of OPEC prepare to meet this week and vote on production levels. Brent crude, the international standard, rose $2.18, or 3.6%, to $63 a barrel.

Financial stocks were strong after a rise in interest rates boosted profit expectations for companies making loans and sitting on large investment portfolios. JPMorgan Chase shares rose 2%, and Regions Financial gained 1.6%.

Expedia Group climbed 6.2% after the company shook its leadership and expanded its stock buyback program.

Gold slid $4.20 to $1,474.00 an ounce. Silver dropped 33 cents to $16.80 an ounce. Copper, which often moves with expectations for global economic strength, rose 3 cents to $2.64 a pound.

European stock indexes finished higher, while Asian markets sank.