Home / Business / Stocks rise modestly as investors' parse conflicting economic data and China trade headlines

Stocks rise modestly as investors' parse conflicting economic data and China trade headlines

U.S. stocks rose Friday as the major benchmarks aim for their most robust weekly gains in a month, and as investors' optimistic headlines on US-China trade developments as well as conflicting data on the U.S. economy.

How did major indexes fare?

How did major indexes fare?

How did major indexes fare? The Dow Jones Industrial Average

                                     DJIA, + 0.57%

rose 35 points, or 0.1

%, to 25,749, while the S&P 500 index

                                     SPX, + 0.55%

climbed 9 points, or 0.3%, at 2,815. The Nasdaq Composite Index

                                     COMP, + 0.87%

advanced 53 points to 7.683, a gain of 0.7%.

For the week, the Dow is set for a weekly gain of 1.3%, while the S&P 500 is set to rise 2.8%, while the Nasdaq is on pace to rise 3.8% over the past five trading days. The gains were the biggest weekly gain since the period ended Feb. 15, according to FactSet data.

What are benchmarks doing?

The Dow has been weighed down this week by Boeing Inc .

                                     BA, + 1.47%

struggles related to the grounding of its 737 Max 8 and Max 9. The performance of the broader market, and tech shares in particular, were more robust after data showing that U.S. Workers are still in high demand and that consumer confidence is rising.

Investors are also digesting comments from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Beijing's No. 2 leader after President Xi Jinping, who expressed optimism that a trade deal between China and the U.S. can be achieved that suits both parties.

He also denied accusations that the country used its technology to spy on other countries, attempting to lay one of the key issues that stand between the U.S. and China in a trade agreement.

“This is not how China behaves. We did not do that and will not do that in the future, ”said a translated remarks at the conclusion of the National People's Congress on Thursday.

He added that the parties may be several weeks away from a tariff agreement, but described China as "very responsible and reasonable." Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking to reporters after his Senate testimony in front of a finance committee said no date had been set for meeting between Xi and Trump to complete a deal, adding that "there's still a lot of work to do." 19659002] Bloomberg News a day ago a meeting that had tentatively been penciled in for the end of March would be pushed back to April.

Trade talks between the two of the largest economies has been chief among corporations for investors because heated by the two to potential economies world-wide.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan left unchanged interest rates , as expected, while also maintaining purchases of Japanese government bonds.

Separate from its comments on trade, China's under-weakness in the world's second-largest economy and promised implementation of ways to boost it, including cutting interest rates and banks' reserve requirement ratio.

Manufacturing activity in New York state at a slower rate than expected, The New York Fed's Empire State index fell to a reading of 3.7 in March from 8.8 in the prior month, a near two-year low. Economists had expected a reading of 10, according to a survey by Econoday.

U.S. industrial production rose by 0.1% in February, below the 0.4% increase expected by economists, according to a MarketWatch poll. January's figures, however, were revised to show a 0.4% drop, rather than a 0.6% decline as previously estimated.

The report also showed capacity utilization of slightly less than 78.2% in February, from 78.3% in January. Job openings in the U.S. rose to 7.58 million in January, according to the Labor Department, the third-highest level on record.

Consumer sentiment rose in March, to 97.8 from 93.8 in February, according to preliminary reading of the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index. The reading was above the 95 level expected by economists polled by MarketWatch.

What are strategists saying?

"The move higher this morning is being driven by [China premier Li Keqiang’s] comments" that the Chinese government was committed to taking stimulus measures needed to prop up the world's second largest economy, Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Asset Management, Duty MarketWatch.

"You see smaller cap companies well, which indicates a risk-on mood on Wall Street," added, pointing to strong consumer confidence data as reason to believe that the U.S. economy's expansion has more room to run.

Pierre Veyret, technical analyst at ActivTrades said "this risk-on sentiment was mainly built on ground of a wide-spread optimism following President Trump's recent statement about a" very responsible and reasonable China ". The U.S. President also added he will have news on a China trade deal in the next 3-4 weeks and that could lead to an extension of this year's rally on stocks. ”

“ Its quadruple options expiration day, which is likely to cause a swelling of volume and volatility, ”said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities.

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of Facebook Inc. .

                                     FB, -2.47%

were under pressure after the social media firm said that two senior executives were leaving the company. The stock was down 2.5%. Shares fell 1.9% on Thursday, news on the grand jury is a criminal investigation into the company's data sharing practices.

Amazon Inc. .

                                     AMZN, + 0.91%

stock rose 0.5% early Friday, after KeyBanc Capital raised its rating on the stock to overweight.

Shares of Boeing were 0.9% higher but remain down nearly 11% for the week.

Bioscrip Inc .

                                     BIOS, -30.66%

stock fell 30%, after the company announced a deal with privately held Option Care Enterprises Inc.

Shares or Broadcom Inc. . rose 10.7% Friday morning, after the chip maker reported fiscal first quarter earnings Thursday evening that surpassed expectations.

Shares of Ulta Beauty Inc .

                                     ULTA, + 8.68%

rallied 8.1% after the beauty products retailer reported fiscal fourth quarter results Thursday evening that surpassed expectations, while showing an increase in online sales. Newell Brands Inc .

                                     NWL, -1.04%

shares were in focus after chief executive officer Michael Polk said Thursday evening that he would retire from the company at the end of the second quarter. The stock fell .50.9% Friday.

Shares of Oracle Corp .

                                     ORCL, -0.23%

fell 0.7%, following a Thursday evening report that showed the enterprise software company beating earnings estimates for the fiscal third quarter that surpassed expectations and an outlook that matched forecasts [19659003] How did the major benchmarks fare yesterday?

On Thursday, the Dow rose 7.05 points to 25,709.94, a gain of less than 0.1%. The S&P 500 index slipped 2.44 points to 2,808.48, finishing little changed, and the Nasdaq Composite Index shed 12.50 points, or 0.2%, to 7,630.91.

How are markets trading elsewhere?

In Asia, stocks closed higher Friday, with Japan's Nikkei 225

                                     NIK, + 0.77%

China's Shanghai Composite Index

                                     SHCOMP, + 1.04%

and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index

                                     HSI, + 0.56%

all rising more that 0.5%

European stocks were also on the rise, with the Stoxx Europe 600

                                     SXXP, [0.45%] + 0.44% adding 0.6%.

In commodities markets, crude oil prices

                                     CLJ9, -0.44%

were ticking higher, while the price of gold

                                     GCJ9, + 0.63% rose, and the U.S. dollar

                                     DXY, -0.22%

edged lower against its peers

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