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Jan. 16, 2020, 4:30 p.m. EST

Stock-market benchmarks post new records after U.S. seals trade accords with China, Mexico and Canada

Healthy U.S. economic data and corporate earnings encourage investors

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By Chris Matthews, MarketWatch , Clive McKeef


Bloomberg News
Morgan Stanley earnings in focus

U.S. stocks rallied again Thursday, with all three benchmark indexes closing at new records, following the signing of a trade truce between the U.S. and China on Wednesday and Senate approval of a new trade deal between the U.S., Mexico and Canada on Thursday.

Financial and technology shares led the rally, with Google’s parent Alphabet becoming only the fourth company to reach a $1 trillion market capitalization, as investors were encouraged by a batch of healthy U.S. economic data along with positive corporate earnings reports.

How are benchmarks faring?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.78% gained 267.42 points, or 0.92%, to 29,297.64, with the blue-chip index extending its three-day run-up above the psychologically significant 29,000 on Wednesday.

The S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -1.05% advanced 27.52 points, or 0.84%, to 3,316.81 and the Nasdaq Composite index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -1.79% added 98.44 points, or 1.06%, to 9,357.13.

On Wednesday, the Dow rose 90.55 points, or 0.3%, at 29,030.22, the S&P 500 index gained 6.14 points, or 0.2%, to close at a record at 3,289.29, while the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 7.37 points, or 0.1%, to close at 9,258.70.

What’s driving the market?

Under the terms of the trade agreement signed by President Trump on Wednesday, China is expected to purchase $95 billion more in U.S. commodities than in 2017, and roughly $100 billion more in manufactured goods and services.

Investors were heartened by the full 96 page text of the agreement and by comments by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that further tariff reductions could come in stages, according to Tom Essaye, president of the Sevens Report. “Phase one is behind us and it met market expectations,” he wrote. “Now the very real question of whether phase one results in an uptick in economic growth lies in front of us, and the truth is it’s unclear.”

In other trade news Thursday, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, sending the pact to President Donald Trump for signature just a day after he inked a high-profile trade deal with China.

Outside of trade relations, market participants digested a fresh round of corporate earnings reports, with shares of Morgan Stanley /zigman2/quotes/209104354/composite MS -2.47% rallying 6.61% Thursday, after the investment bank reported fourth-quarter earnings and sales that rose well above expectations, adding to what has been a mostly positive reporting season for the financial services industry.

“We expect earnings growth to drive stock market gains in 2020,” said LPL Financial Chief Investment Strategist John Lynch. “With valuations elevated, corporate America will probably have to do the heavy lifting to get stocks much above current levels.”

Which data are in focus?

In a good sign for the U.S. economy, most retailers posted higher sales in December to finish out the holiday season on a strong note. Retail sales increased 0.3% last month, the government said Thursday, just a tick below the MarketWatch forecast.

The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits in early January fell for the fifth week in a row, giving a clean bill of health to strong U.S. labor market as 2020 got underway.

/zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime
US : Dow Jones Global
28,992.41
-227.57 -0.78%
Volume: 313.44M
Feb. 21, 2020 5:16p
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/zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime
US : S&P US
3,337.75
-35.48 -1.05%
Volume: 2.12B
Feb. 21, 2020 5:16p
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
9,576.59
-174.37 -1.79%
Volume: 2.45M
Feb. 21, 2020 5:16p
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/209104354/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 52.42
-1.33 -2.47%
Volume: 29.54M
Feb. 21, 2020 6:30p
P/E Ratio
10.11
Dividend Yield
2.67%
Market Cap
$84.85 billion
Rev. per Employee
$831,709
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