A currency trader watches computer monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, March 4, 2019. Asian stocks rose Monday after news reports said Washington and Beijing are close to reaching an agreement as early as this month to end their costly tariff war. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Hope for US-China deal pushes stocks higher

March 04, 2019 - 10:06 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Investor hopes for a U.S.-China trade deal pushed stocks broadly higher in early trading Monday.

The world's two largest economies have pulled back from an immediate escalation of their damaging trade war since they started negotiating last month. President Donald Trump postponed a deadline for raising tariffs on more Chinese goods, citing progress in a series of talks. Now, media reports say the nations could strike a deal this month.

The main sticking point for the U.S. is China's technological ambitions. The U.S. has accused China of stealing technology and forcing companies to turn over technology in order to do business.

Tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by both nations have raised prices on a variety of goods. China could be close to a deal that would cut tariffs on U.S. farm, auto and other products and the U.S. is considering removing most sanctions on imports, according to media reports.

Investors are also watching this week's session of China's ceremonial national legislature for policy announcements on currency, trade, industrial development and possible economic stimulus. The legislature is due to endorse a law that would address one portion of foreign complaints about Beijing's regulation system by discouraging officials from pressuring companies to hand over technology.

Technology stocks, industrial and internet companies were among the biggest gainers in early trading.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 68 points, or 0.3 percent, to 26,092 as of 10 a.m. The S&P 500 index rose 0.4 percent and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.6 percent.

ZOMBIE COMPETITION: Children's clothing retailer Children's Place gave investors a dismal forecast after reporting a disappointing fourth quarter. The stock fell 10 percent.

The main issue is competition from dying competitors holding liquidation sales. Rivals Gymboree and Crazy 8 stores have been in the process of shutting down, which means liquidation sales and better deals for shoppers.

"We have never experienced a total liquidation of a direct competitor of the size and proximity of Gymboree," Children's Place CEO Jane Elfers said in a prepared statement.

BIOTECH BUMP: Gene therapy developer Nightstar Therapeutics surged 66 percent after biotech giant Biogen offered to buy it for $877 million in cash. Nightstar is developing treatments for rare eye conditions.

Biogen and other large drug developers have been trying to expand their portfolios to include gene therapy and treatments for rare conditions. Those treatments are expensive to develop, but command better prices if they make it to market.

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