U.S. stocks post gains amid trade concerns, economic data

Updated 2018-04-01 11:12:01 Xinhua

U.S. stocks rebounded for the holiday-shortened week after wild swings, as investors assessed the trade tensions between the United States and China amid economic reports.

U.S. stocks fell sharply toward the end of last week after President Donald Trump announced heavy tariffs on up to 60 billion U.S. dollars of imports from China as well as harsher restrictions on Chinese investments.

On Monday, U.S. equities soared after previous week's heavy sell-off, with all three major indices witnessing their best percentage daily gains since 2015, as trade tensions between the United States and China appeared to ease.

During the weekend, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He had a phone conversation with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, urging concerted efforts to maintain the stability of China-U.S. trade ties.

Liu expressed the hope that the two sides will stay rational and work together to maintain the overall stability of their economic and trade relations.

After the conversation, Mnuchin said on Sunday that he was "cautiously hopeful" that an agreement can be reached with China.

Trade concerns appeared to abate even more after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's comments Monday.

"There is no winner in a trade war," Li said, calling for a rational and earnest attitude when addressing the problem of China-U.S. trade imbalance.

However, the sell-off in U.S. stocks resumed on Tuesday and Wednesday as a sharp decline in tech sector dented investor sentiment amid lingering trade worries. Many notable U.S. tech giants, including Facebook and Tesla, plummeted during the two sessions amid negative media reports.

On Thursday, U.S. stocks traded sharply higher as investors digested a batch of generally positive economic reports amid abating worries about tech shares.

U.S. stock markets were closed on Friday due to the Good Friday holiday.

On the economic front, U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, above market consensus of 2.7 percent, according to the third estimate released by the Commerce Department Wednesday.

U.S. real GDP increased 2.3 percent in 2017, much higher than the 1.5-percent growth in 2016.

In the week ending March 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 215,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week's revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since Jan. 27, 1973 when it was 214,000.

The final reading of U.S. Consumer Sentiment Index came in at 101.4 in March, marking the highest level since 2004.

U.S. personal income increased 67.3 billion U.S. dollars, or 0.4 percent, in February, while personal consumption expenditures increased 27.7 billion dollars, or 0.2 percent. Both figures are on par with market consensus.

The international trade deficit in goods came in at 75.4 billion dollars in February, up 0.1 billion dollars from the January reading.

The Pending Home Sales Index grew 3.1 percent to 107.5 in February from a downwardly revised 104.3 in January.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index reported a 6.2-percent annual gain in January, down from 6.3 percent in the previous month.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index registered 127.7 in March, down from 130 in the previous month.

Led by improvements in production-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index rose from 0.02 in January to 0.88 in February, beating market consensus.

For the holiday-shortened week, all three major indices posted solid gains, with the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq jumping 2.4 percent, 2.0 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively.

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