US STOCKS-Wall Street ends higher as trade worries ease

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 fell unexpectedly in
April
    * Uber and Lyft see 2nd straight day of gains
    * Indexes up: Dow 0.45%, S&P 0.58%, Nasdaq 1.13%

 (Updates to market close)
    By Stephen Culp
    NEW YORK, May 15 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks closed higher on
Wednesday as reports that U.S. President Donald Trump would hold
off on imposing tariffs on imported cars and parts eased growth
concerns even as economic data disappointed investors.
    All three major U.S. indexes saw their second straight day
of gains following Monday's steep sell-off, but the S&P 500
remained more than 3% below its all-time high reached just over
two weeks ago.
    The prospect of a six-month postponement of tariffs on
imported autos and auto parts, along with Treasury Secretary
Steven Mnuchin's remarks that he expects trade talks to resume
soon in China, was welcome news to investors, who started the
session in a selling mood after the underwhelming economic
reports.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N22R0PD  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N22R0O9 
    Retail sales  USRSL=ECI  posted a surprise drop in April as
consumers pulled back on their spending, according to the U.S.
Commerce Department. A separate report from the Labor Department
showed U.S. industrial production  USIP=ECI  also unexpectedly
dipped in April. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N22R0EG
    "(Investors are) taking their cues from the president and
the treasury secretary as a bit of a softening on trade
negotiations," said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist,
senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.
"That's giving the market reason to believe that a trade deal is
somewhere in the offing."  
    "Investors have gotten into this pattern of knee-jerk
reactions," Pavlik continued. "It's almost as if you light a
fire cracker and the dog goes running off and then realizes it's
not so bad and starts to come back in." 
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI  rose 115.97 points,
or 0.45%, to 25,648.02, the S&P 500  .SPX  gained 16.55 points,
or 0.58%, to 2,850.96 and the Nasdaq Composite  .IXIC  added
87.65 points, or 1.13%, to 7,822.15.
    Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, eight ended the
session 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 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  dipped 0.5% 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 11.0% 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  saw their second straight day of gains following
their underwhelming post-debut performances. Their shares
advanced 3.3% and 7.0%, respectively.
    Cisco Systems Inc  CSCO.O  shares rose more than 3% in
after-market trading following the company's earnings release. 
    Walmart Inc  WMT.N  is expected report before the market
opens on Thursday.
    Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a
2.05-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.48-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
    The S&P 500 posted 23 new 52-week highs and 12 new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 64 new highs and 76 new lows. 
    Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.29 billion shares, compared
to the 7.00 billion average over the last 20 trading days.     

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

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