US stocks hit fresh record highs on trade deal hopes

China and US trade deal widely expected to be signed in early January

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

 

The Nasdaq crossed the 9,000-point mark for the first time yesterday as all three major Wall Street indexes posted record closing highs, boosted by optimism over US-China trade relations and gains in shares of Amazon. com after a report signalled robust online holiday sales.

Traders returned from the Christmas break to digest comments from Beijing that it was in close contact with Washington about an initial trade agreement, shortly after US President Donald Trump talked up a signing ceremony for the recently struck Phase 1 trade deal. Cooling US-China trade tensions have fuelled the latest leg of Wall Street’s record-setting rally.

With just days to go until the year-end, the benchmark S&P 500 is up 29 per cent so far in 2019, which would be its biggest annual percentage gain since 2013. The Nasdaq posted a record closing high for a 10th straight session, its longest such streak since 1997.

Shares of Amazon jumped 4.4 per cent after a Mastercard report showed that US shoppers spent more online during the holiday shopping season than in 2018, with e-commerce sales hitting a record high. “The important part is that the online sales were much stronger than expected. The brick-and-mortar were less than expected, so the online sales, and principally Amazon, saved the day,” said John Conlon, director, equity strategy at People’s United Advisors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 105.94 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 28,621.39, the S&P 500 gained 16.53 points, or 0.51 per cent, to 3,239.91 and the Nasdaq Composite added 69.51 points, or 0.78 per cent, to 9,022.39. Consumer discretionary was the biggest gainer among the S&P 500 sectors, spurred by Amazon. – (Reuters)