The benchmark S&P 500 stock index edged higher, nearing a six-month high on Thursday, with losses in technology stocks countered by gains in Boeing and Facebook as the wait for increased clarity on the U.S.-China trade talks continued.
Negotiations continued in Washington after meetings last week in Beijing, as the two countries worked toward resolving their long-standing trade dispute, which has cast a shadow over global economic growth. Trump is set to meet Vice Premier Liu He, who is leading the Chinese side in the talks, on Thursday.
Hopes of a trade deal have aided the S&P 500’s strong start to the second quarter. It has reached its highest level since Oct. 9 and is only 1.75% below its all-time closing high.
Meanwhile, data from the Labor Department indicated that jobless claims fell to a 49-year low last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength.
There will be a clearer picture of the labor market on Friday, when the non-farm payrolls report is released.
Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher. Conversely, the technology sector fell 0.4%. Gains in Facebook and Boeing shares helped push the S&P 500 forward.
Facebook rose 1.4 percent, contributing to a 0.7 percent gain in the communication services sector, after brokerage Guggenheim upgraded the social media company’s stock to “buy” from “neutral.”
Boeing rose 2.9 percent, adding the most to gains on the Dow and the S&P industrial index, which rose 0.6 percent.
Ethiopian investigators urged Boeing to review its flight control technology in the first public findings on the March crash of a 737 MAX jet. A Morgan Stanley analyst said the report potentially took the worst- case scenario of an entirely new cause off the table.
Meanwhile, the Nasdaq ended a five-day run of gains, as it was pressured by a decline in the shares of Microsoft and Tesla. Tesla fell 8.2 percent after the electric carmaker’s deliveries fell 31 percent in the first quarter.
They pared some losses in afternoon trading as Chief Executive Elon Musk’s role at the company appeared safe, with a federal judge in Manhattan urging the billionaire to settle contempt allegations by the SEC.
Approximately 6.33 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 7.37 billion share average over the past 20 trading days.