US STOCKS-Wall St gets tech boost as reports bolster hopes of trade deal

Reuters

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    * Beijing open to agreeing to partial trade deal - BBG
    * China offering extra U.S. agriculture purchases - FT
    * Apple, Microsoft biggest boost to S&P 500
    * J&J drops after jury says company must pay $8 bln in
damages
    * Indexes up: Dow 0.49%, S&P 500 0.66%, Nasdaq 0.80%

 (Adds comment, updates prices)
    By Arjun Panchadar
    Oct 9 (Reuters) - Wall Street rose on Wednesday on the back
of gains in technology stocks, as investor sentiment was boosted
by reports indicating an ease in trade tensions between the
United States and China ahead of pivotal talks on Thursday.
    China was still open to agreeing to a partial trade deal
with the United States, despite the inclusion of top Chinese
artificial intelligence startups in a trade blacklist, according
to a Bloomberg report.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nFWN26T0UF
    Separately, the Financial Times said Beijing was offering to
increase its annual purchases of U.S. agricultural products.
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL5N26U2XD
    Shares in Microsoft Corp  MSFT.O  and Apple Inc  AAPL.O 
rose about 1% and were among the biggest boosts to the S&P 500
 .SPX . The technology sector  .SPLRCT  rose 1.08%.
    Chipmakers with a sizable exposure to China also gained,
with the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index  .SOX  up 1.45%.
    "The reality of what we can actually expect from these talks
is for both sides to come to a truce. If they just called a
time-out, a detente, then the markets would celebrate that,"
said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities
in New York.
    Trade tensions, intensifying efforts to impeach President
Donald Trump and signs of slowing economic growth rocked equity
markets in October, with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones indexes off
more than 2% since the end of September.
    Rising geopolitical risks have also not offered investors
any respite. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said
a military operation targeting Kurdish fighters in northeast
Syrian had begun.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL5N26U0MS
    A sharp contraction in U.S. manufacturing data, as well as a
dismal reading on business activity last week has raised bets of
a third interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve this year.
    Fed Chair Jerome Powell flagged openness to further rate
cuts on Tuesday, repeating that the central bank would act "as
appropriate" amid an economy that he said was likely to continue
to expand.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N26T1FK
    At 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the central bank is due to
release minutes from its September meeting.
    The session's gains were broad-based, with all the major S&P
500 sectors trading higher and 27 of the 30 components of the
blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average index  .DJI  in positive
territory.
    Johnson & Johnson's  JNJ.N  shares fell 2.2% after a jury
awarded $8 billion in punitive damages to a man who accused it
of failing to warn that young men using its antipsychotic drug
Risperdal could grow breasts.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N26T1UL
    Energy stocks  .SPNY  also gained 1.3%, tracking an increase
in oil prices.
    Investors will now turn their eye to the third-quarter
earnings season, which begins next week with U.S. banks
reporting, to gauge the health of the domestic economy.
    Analysts expect the worst quarterly profit performance since
2016, with earnings for S&P 500 companies estimated to fall 3.1%
from a year earlier, based on IBES data from Refinitiv.
    At 11:25 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI  was
up 126.91 points, or 0.49%, at 26,290.95, the S&P 500  .SPX  was
up 18.97 points, or 0.66%, at 2,912.03 and the Nasdaq Composite
 .IXIC  was up 62.32 points, or 0.80%, at 7,886.10.
    Shares in Netflix Inc  NFLX.O  fell 1.21%, after two
brokerages cut price targets on the video streaming service
provider's shares.
    Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 2.21-to-1 ratio
on the NYSE and a 1.71-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
    The S&P index recorded seven new 52-week highs and nine new
lows, while the Nasdaq recorded four new highs and 76 new lows.

 (Reporting by Arjun Panchadar and Shreyashi Sanyal in
Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)
 ((Arjun.Panchadar@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S.
+1-646-223-8780; outside U.S. +918067492767))

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