By Lewis Krauskopf
(Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes hit record highs on Thursday, but eased back from steeper initial gains, after President Donald Trump tweeted the United States was close to a deal with China ahead of a Sunday deadline that could be a turning point in the two countries' trade relations.
Stocks jumped, with the benchmark S&P 500 <.SPX> rising as much as 1.1%, after Trump's tweet and reports that the United States has offered to cut existing tariffs on Chinese goods by as much as 50% and suspend new tariffs expected to go into effect Sunday.
Wall Street has been hopeful the tariffs would at least be delayed as the world's two largest economies make progress on an initial trade deal.
"It's extremely important the new tariffs don't go into place," said Burns McKinney, portfolio manager at Allianz Global Investors in Dallas. "For the last several months there's been a lot of noise on trade. This is not noise. This is the real thing, an important deadline."
Investors were wary of placing too much faith in the developments following the continued ups and downs during the long U.S.-China trade saga that has convulsed markets.
The pull-back from session highs reflected "pretty natural skepticism," said Mark Hackett, chief of investment research at Nationwide.
"How many times have we had the Lucy pulling the football away in this trade deal?" Hackett said.
“This one seems a little bit more tangible than some of the previous ones, but I still think investors are wise to wait...for something actually being signed,” Hackett said.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 143.05 points, or 0.51%, to 28,054.35, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 16.81 points, or 0.54%, to 3,158.44 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 33.75 points, or 0.39%, to 8,687.80.
The S&P 500 hit an intraday all-time high for the first time since Nov. 27.
The benchmark index has gained 26% so far in 2019, fueled by interest rate cuts by the U.S. Federal Reserve and better than feared corporate profits along with optimism over U.S.-China trade relations.
A day after the Fed held interest rates steady and signaled borrowing costs will not change anytime soon, Europe's central bank held its rates steady and its new head struck a more upbeat tone on the economy.
Among S&P 500 sectors, energy <.SPNY> and financials <.SPSY> gained the most, while defensive groups, including real estate <.SPLRCR> and utilities <.SPLRCU>, were negative.
In company news, Delta Air Lines Inc
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.57-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.64-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 78 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 176 new highs and 48 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Sinéad Carew in New York, Shreyashi Sanyal and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Alistair Bell)
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Updated Date: Dec 13, 2019 02:06:03 IST