Wall St. gains as China, U.S. agree to remove tariffs in phases

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© Reuters. Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York© Reuters. Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were higher late on Thursday as the latest signs of progress in U.S.-China trade relations relieved investors, though indexes pared gains after another report raised fresh worries about the outlook for a deal.

China said it had agreed with the United States to remove tariffs in phases, while state-owned Xinhua News Agency said Beijing was also considering removing restrictions on poultry imports.

But indexes pared gains in afternoon trading after a Reuters report, citing sources, said that the White House’s plan to roll back China tariffs faces internal opposition and that no final decision has been made yet.

An interim U.S.-China trade deal is expected to include a U.S. pledge to scrap tariffs scheduled for Dec. 15.

“That’s clearly the biggest driver from premarket on,” said Oliver Pursche, chief market strategist of Bruderman Asset Management in New York. “The devil is in the details, but the fact that both sides – and particularly China – has said we’ve come to an agreement – I think that’s what is giving this so much credibility.”

The latest batch of earnings offered some cheer to investors.

The S&P 500 technology index () was up 1.1%, with shares of Qualcomm Inc (O:) up 6.4% after it forecast current-quarter profit above analysts’ estimates.

Together with Qualcomm, other chipmakers, which have a sizeable exposure to China, also rose, propping the Philadelphia Semiconductor index () 1.2% higher.

The trade-sensitive industrials sector () was up 0.7%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average () rose 200.75 points, or 0.73%, to 27,693.31, the S&P 500 () gained 10.19 points, or 0.33%, to 3,086.97 and the Nasdaq Composite () added 30.79 points, or 0.37%, to 8,441.42.

Also in earnings news, Ralph Lauren Corp (N:) surged 14.4% after it topped second-quarter profit expectations, helped by a tighter control on expenses and strong demand for its Polo shirts and tweed jackets in China and Europe.

“Corporate earnings, while down year over year, are better than many had expected, and that’s a plus,” Pursche said.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.06-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.30-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 54 new 52-week highs and five new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 112 new highs and 75 new lows.

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