Wall Street’s three major equity indexes ended the trading day on Monday in positive territory, but well below the session’s highs, after Trump said he would delay a planned hike in tariffs on Chinese imports.
Postponement of the tariff deadline was seen as the clearest sign yet that the two countries are closing in on an agreement to end their prolonged trade war, which has slowed global growth and disrupted markets.
However, the day’s gains were capped after weeks of advances for the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq, that were due in no small part to trade optimism and dovish signals from the Federal Reserve.
The S&P 500 index ended 4.9 percent below its late September record closing high after narrowing the gap to 4.3 percent earlier in the session.
The Street is looking forward to the appearance by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell before a Senate committee on Tuesday.
At the same time there was growing concern over the weakening earnings estimates for the current quarter. Wall Street on Monday was expecting a 0.9 percent decline in S&P first-quarter earnings per share compared with expectations for 5.3 percent growth on Jan. 1, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Monday did see the S&P technology index rise 0.5 percent. The Philadelphia semiconductor index climbed 0.8 percent as chip companies have a large exposure to China.
The industrials sector rose 0.4 percent, getting its largest lift from General Electric, which gained 10.8 percent after announcing a sale of its biopharma business to Danaher Corp for $21.4 billion. Danaher shares rose 8.2 percent.
A flurry of M&A activity also helped the risk-on sentiment.
The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index rose 2 percent, its greatest lift coming from shares in Spark Therapeutics, which chalked up a gain of 120 percent after Swiss based Roche Holding AG agreed to acquire the company for $4.3 billion.
The laggards were the S&P’s defensive sectors – consumer staples, utilities and real estate. The consumer discretionary sector also ended down 0.3 percent, with the largest drag coming from Home Depot, down 1.3 percent, on concerns about a soft housing market ahead of its quarterly results.
Approximately 7.36 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 7.32 billion share average over the past 20 trading days.