US STOCKS-Wall Street gains on optimism over possible delay in auto tariffs

Reuters

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    * Trump expected to delay auto tariffs decision - officials
    * Automakers rise 1% on tariff news
    * Mnuchin says trade talks likely to continue in Beijing
    * U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fall in April
    * Indexes up: Dow 0.47%, S&P 0.57%, Nasdaq 0.95%

 (Updates to afternoon)
    By Amy Caren Daniel and Sruthi Shankar
    May 15 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks gained ground on Wednesday
after a report that President Donald Trump was set to delay a
decision to impose auto tariffs, offering respite to markets
worried about slowing global growth after a batch of weak
economic data.
    The deadline to decide on tariffs is May 18, but Trump is
expected to delay it by up to six months, sources told Reuters.
Automakers Ford Motor Co  F.N , and General Motors Co  GM.N 
gained about 1% on the news.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N22R0RO
    Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he will
likely travel to Beijing soon to continue trade talks with
China.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N22R0O9
    "We got some support from Mnuchin comments and then auto
tariffs, that is a positive development as there was fear that
tariffs would stretch to auto imports," said Paul Brigandi,
managing director of portfolio management at Direxion Funds in
New York.
    Concerns that the trade dispute could be protracted and may
impact the global economy have kept investors on edge over the
past couple of days, and has put the benchmark S&P index 3.6%
below its all-time high reached two weeks ago.
    "The truth is that we are closer to a trade deal than none.
Investors around the world want to see a deal happen, they want
to see finality," said Ken Polcari, managing principal at
Butcher Joseph Asset Management in New York.
    "If the news around trade remains uncertain, the market does
not know how to price that in, which is why you see markets
thrashing around every time there is headline to drive the
tone." 
    Stocks came under pressure earlier in the day after U.S.
retail sales unexpectedly fell in April as households cut back
on purchases of motor vehicles, indicating a moderation in
economic activity. 
    Worries about slowing growth were reinforced by a drop in
industrial production last month.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N22R0EG
    Data from China also showed surprisingly weak growth in
retail sales and industrial output for April, adding pressure on
the country to roll out more stimulus.
    At 12:38 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI 
was up 119.14 points, or 0.47%, at 25,651.19. The S&P 500  .SPX 
was up 16.28 points, or 0.57%, at 2,850.69 and the Nasdaq
Composite  .IXIC  was up 73.64 points, or 0.95%, at 7,808.13.
    Technology shares  .SPLRCT  gained 0.9%, providing the
biggest boost to markets. A more than 2.5% gain in shares of
Facebook Inc  FB.O  and Alphabet Inc  GOOG.O  lifted the
communication services sector  .SPLRCL  by 1.3%, the most among
the major S&P sectors.  
    Agilent Technologies Inc's  A.N  shares fell 11.9%, the most
on the S&P 500, after the medical equipment maker's quarterly
results missed estimates.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N22R3WW
    Boeing Co  BA.N  rose 0.8% after Federal Aviation
Administration acting chief Dan Elwell told lawmakers he expects
the planemaker to submit a software fix for the grounded 737 MAX
for approval soon, but added he was concerned by Boeing's
lengthy delay in disclosing a software anomaly.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N22R0YS   
    Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.91-to-1 ratio
on the NYSE and by a 1.33-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
    The S&P index recorded 21 new 52-week highs and 11 new lows,
while the Nasdaq recorded 57 new highs and 58 new lows.

 (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru;
Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Arun Koyyur)
 ((Amy.CarenDaniel@thomsonreuters.com ; within U.S.
+1-646-223-8780; outside U.S. +91 80 6749 9250 ; Reuters
Messaging: Amy.CarenDaniel.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net;))

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