US STOCKS-Wall St gains as trade optimism trumps dim economic data

Reuters

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    * Trump expected to hold off on auto tariffs - officials
    * Mnuchin says trade talks likely to continue in Beijing
    * U.S. retail sales, factory output unexpectedly fall in
April
    * Uber and Lyft on the road for 2nd straight day of gains
    * Indexes up: Dow 0.68%, S&P 0.79%, Nasdaq 1.25%

 (Updates to late afternoon, changes dateline, byline)
    By Stephen Culp
    NEW YORK, May 15 (Reuters) - Wall Street turned positive on
Wednesday following reports that U.S. President Donald Trump
would hold off on imposing tariffs on imported cars and parts,
easing slowdown fears after downbeat economic data. 
    Technology stocks led all three major U.S. indexes into the
black, setting them up for a second day of gains, but S&P 500
remained about 3% below its all-time high reached just over two
weeks ago.
    The prospect of a six-month delay in tariffs on imported
autos and auto parts  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N22R0PD, along with Treasury Secretary
Steven Mnuchin's remarks that he expects trade talks to resume
soon in China,  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N22R0O9 was welcome news to investors, who
started the session in a selling mood after the disappointing
economic reports. 
    Retail sales  USRSL=ECI  unexpectedly dropped in April as
consumers curbed their spending, according to the U.S. Commerce
Department. In a separate report from the Labor Department, U.S.
industrial production  USIP=ECI  also unexpectedly dipped in
April. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N22R0EG
    The U.S. data, along with weaker-than-expected economic
numbers from China, showed a dimmer picture of global growth
against the backdrop of an increasingly bellicose trade war
between the world's two largest economies. 
    "The market was selling but rebounded," said Chuck Carlson, 
chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services in
Hammond, Indiana. "It's symptomatic of a market that's in
short-term mode right now and what's driving that right now is
trade." 
    "We've got an investor populace that's trying to see if the
recent pullback is an opportunity, to take advantage of the dip
and deploy extra cash," Carlson added. 
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI  rose 173.38 points,
or 0.68%, to 25,705.43, the S&P 500  .SPX  gained 22.3 points,
or 0.79%, to 2,856.71 and the Nasdaq Composite  .IXIC  added
96.90 points, or 1.25%, to 7,831.40.
    Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, all but financials
 .SPSY  were in positive territory, with communications services
 .SPLRCL  enjoying the largest percentage gain, led by Alphabet
Inc  GOOGL.O  and Facebook Inc  FB.O .
    With 455 of S&P 500 companies having posted results,
first-quarter earnings season is winding down. Of those who have
reported, 75.2% have bested Street expectations.
    Analysts now see first-quarter earnings growth of 1.2%, a
significant turnaround from the 2% loss seen on April 1.
    Macy's Inc  M.N  slid 1.1% after the department store beat
quarterly expectations but said the recent tariff hikes on
Chinese goods will hurt its furniture business.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N22R3MY
    Agilent Technologies Inc  A.N  was the worst performer of
the S&P 500, falling 10.8% after the medical equipment maker
reported quarterly profit that fell short of consensus
estimates.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N22R3WW
    Ride-hailing rivals Uber Technologies Inc  UBER.N  and Lyft
Inc  LYFT.O  were on the road to their second straight day of
gains following their unimpressive post-debut performances.
Their shares were up 2.1% and 6.5%, respectively.
    Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a
2.21-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.45-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
    The S&P 500 posted 22 new 52-week highs and 11 new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 62 new highs and 66 new lows.  

 (Reporting by Stephen Culp
Editing by Susan Thomas)
 ((stephen.culp@thomsonreuters.com; 646-223-6076;))

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