Trade optimism pulls Wall Street higher on final day of quarter


By Shreyashi Sanyal and Amy Caren Daniel

March 29 () - U.S. stocks rose on Friday, with the S&P 500 set to post its best quarterly performance in more than nine years, boosted by optimism over the latest round of trade negotiations between the United States and China.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said U.S. held "constructive" talks in Beijing, while Chinese state news agency reported the two sides discussed "relevant agreement documents" and made new progress.

"The conclusion of U.S.-China trade talks on the surface, is being taken as a positive step towards a meaningful deal," said Peter Cecchini, managing director and chief market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York.

Trade-sensitive industrials rose 0.65 percent and chipmakers, which have a large revenue exposure to China, also gained, with the Philadelphia chip index up 1.13 percent.

The broader technology sector inched 0.46 percent higher.

"It's the end of the quarter and the first quarter looks like it's one of the best in years, even on the back of muted or mixed economic data," said Michael Antonelli, market strategist at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

The benchmark index has risen 12.6 percent so far this quarter, its best quarterly performance since September 2009.

Growth fears were triggered last week when the Federal Reserve abandoned projections for interest rate hikes in 2019 and the U.S. Treasury yield curve inverted for the first time since 2007, a historical indication of recession.

However, the yield curve between three-month bills and 10-year notes turned slightly positive on Friday, after remaining inverted for a week, helping financials rise 0.13 percent.

At 10:59 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 89.47 points, or 0.35 percent, at 25,806.93. The S&P 500 was up 6.82 points, or 0.24 percent, at 2,822.26 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 26.86 points, or 0.35 percent, at 7,696.03.

Latest data showed U.S. consumer spending barely rose in January and income increased modestly in February, suggesting the economy was fast losing momentum after growth slowed in the fourth quarter.

Ride-hailing startup Lyft Inc is set to make its debut on the Nasdaq after the company raised $2.34 billion in its initial public offering.

DowDuPont fell 2.1 percent after brokerages lowered their price targets on the chemical company, citing bad weather and margin pressures.

Celgene Corp jumped 6.4 percent, after proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services backed rival drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co's vote in favor of proposed takeover of the company.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.01-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.68-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 30 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 38 new highs and 22 new lows.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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