S&P 500, Nasdaq hit new highs as chips rally on trade optimism

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq indexes hit record highs on Monday, as a report that the United States and China were nearing a trade truce sparked a rally in Apple and semiconductor stocks, with sentiment also buoyed by a raft of blockbuster deals.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., November 18, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Gains in trade-sensitive chip stocks, including Applied Materials Inc (AMAT.O) and Lam Research Corp (LRCX.O), helped lift the Philadelphia Semiconductor index .SOX 2.27% after a Chinese state-backed tabloid said Beijing and Washington were “very close” to an initial pact.

That added to optimism from comments over the weekend by a top U.S. official that an agreement was still possible by the end of the year, dispelling fears that the negotiations could carry on into 2020.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) rose 1.3% and was the top boost to the S&P and Nasdaq, while it provided the second-biggest support to the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average.

“The mood is pretty positive at this point,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Gains on Monday were broad-based, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq .IXIC firming over 1.1% and eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors higher. The technology sector .SPLRCT gained the most on the benchmark index, rising 1.25%.

“You got mergers today, which are typically positive for the market, and I think you still have some optimism that there’s going to be a trade deal,” Brown said.

Tiffany & Co (TIF.N) jumped 6% and was the biggest gainer on the S&P 500 as the luxury jeweler agreed to a sweetened $16.2 billion deal with France’s LVMH (LVMH.PA).

U.S. discount brokerage TD Ameritrade Holding Corp (AMTD.O) was up 6.4% after larger rival Charles Schwab Corp (SCHW.N) said it would buy the company in an all-stock deal valued at about $26 billion. Schwab rose 1.3%.

EBay Inc (EBAY.O) gained 1.4% after the e-commerce major said it would sell ticketing unit StubHub to ticket reseller Viagogo for $4.05 billion in cash.

Trade deal hopes and robust third-quarter corporate earnings have helped Wall Street’s main indexes scale record levels this month.

At 11:43 a.m. ET, the Dow .DJI was up 128.17 points, or 0.46%, at 28,003.79, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 19.16 points, or 0.62%, at 3,129.45 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 99.90 points at 8,619.78.

Among other stocks, Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) rose 4.8% and was the top gainer on the chip index as Morgan Stanley upgraded its shares to “overweight” from “equal weight”.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 3.22-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 3.57-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 33 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 100 new highs and 40 new lows.

Reporting by Arjun Panchadar and Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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