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* Walmart beats holiday qtr estimates, lifts Dow
* U.S.-China trade talks resume in Washington
* Investors eye FOMC minutes on Wednesday
* Indexes up: Dow 0.11 pct, S&P 0.25 pct, Nasdaq 0.29 pct
By Stephen Culp
NEW YORK, Feb 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks gained modestly onTuesday as upbeat results from Walmart boosted investorsentiment and high-level U.S.-China trade talks resumed.
All three major U.S. equity indexes edged higher, with theNasdaq on course for its seventh consecutive day in the black.The benchmark S&P 500 looked set to post its fifth session aboveits 200-day moving average, a key technical level.
Consumer discretionary stocks, led by Amazon.comAMZN.O ,provided the biggest lift to the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, whileWalmart Inc WMT.N headed up the blue-chip Dow's advance.
Walmart reported a better-than-expected jump in same-storesales during the holiday quarter urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N20E0A2, sending shares ofthe world's largest retailer up 3.3 percent.
"I think Walmart numbers gave a boost to investors, it's abit of a proxy for the economy and for consumer sentiment, givenits reach," said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer atHorizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana. "So that'sprobably given a ray of light to the bulls today."
A fresh round of high-level trade talks between the UnitedStates and China began in Washington, with U.S. Chamber ofCommerce vice president Myron Brilliant expressing hope that"the two sides will reach a comprehensive, bold and significanttrade agreement." urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N20E02U
Investors look ahead to Wednesday, when the Federal OpenMarket Committee (FOMC) is slated to release minutes from itsJanuary policymaking meeting. The minutes are expected toreaffirm the central bank's statement last month that it wouldbe "patient" with respect to further rate hikes after marketsswooned late in December on fears of an economic slowdown.
Indeed, in the quarters ahead, analysts see a slowdown incorporate profit growth. While fourth-quarter profits areexpected to have increased by 16.3 percent, the outlook goingforward grows cloudier.
First-quarter 2019 earnings are now seen dropping by 0.6percent from last year, which would mark the first annualdecline since the earnings recession that ended mid-2016.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 28.85 points,or 0.11 percent, to 25,912.1, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 6.95points, or 0.25 percent, to 2,782.55 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 21.40 points, or 0.29 percent, to 7,493.81.
Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, all but healthcare .SPXHC and real estate .SPLRCR were in the black.
Amazon was up 1.3 percent, bouncing back from a two-dayselloff following news that the e-commerce giant's China unit isin merger talks with Chinese shopping site Kaola. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N20E427
Shares of Freeport McMoRanFCX.N jumped 6.9 percent afterCitigroup raised the stock to "buy" from "neutral." urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N20E4CB
Medical device maker Medtronic PlcMDT.N rose 0.3 percentafter beating estimates for quarterly profit. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N20E3JC
Among losers, toy maker Mattel IncMAT.O was down 1.3percent, paring steeper losses after providingweaker-than-expected sales guidance. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N20A4QT
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a2.14-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.54-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 37 new 52-week highs and no new lows; theNasdaq Composite recorded 89 new highs and 19 new lows. (Reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by Bernadette Baum) ((email@example.com; 646-223-6076;))
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.