Wall Street sets records on trade progress optimism

(Reuters) - Each of Wall Street’s three major averages kicked off the trading week with record closes on Monday as signs pointed to progress between the United States and China on a trade truce, while a round of merger deals also helped buoy sentiment.

A Chinese state-backed tabloid said Beijing and Washington were "moving closer to agreeing" to an initial pact, which lifted trade-sensitive semiconductor stocks, including Applied Materials Inc AMAT.O, up 4.18%, and Lam Research Corp LRCX.O, which gained 2.68%. The Philadelphia Semiconductor index .SOX jumped 2.43% and was on pace for its best day in just over three weeks.

Nvidia Corp NVDA.O rose 4.89% and paced the gains on the chip index as Morgan Stanley upgraded its shares to "overweight" from "equal weight".

The newspaper report came on the heels of comments over the weekend by a top U.S. official that an agreement was still possible by the end of the year, dampening worries the negotiations could spill over into 2020.

“Trade is the fulcrum of investor emotions,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research in New York.

“If they are feeling good that we will get some sort of an agreement then the market is up 100 points, if they are feeling the other way then the market is down 100 points.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 189.77 points, or 0.68%, to 28,065.39, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 23.29 points, or 0.75%, to 3,133.58 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 112.60 points, or 1.32%, to 8,632.49.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., November 18, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Apple Inc AAPL.O rose 1.75% as the top boost to the S&P and Nasdaq and the second-biggest lift to the price-weighted Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Gains on Monday were broad with only the defensive consumer staples .SPLRCS and utilities .SPLRCU S&P sectors in the red. Tech .SPLRCT gains helped push the Nasdaq .IXIC up by more than 1 percent, with the group on pace for its best day since Nov. 1.

Tiffany & Co TIF.N jumped 6.20% and was the biggest gainer on the S&P 500 as the luxury jeweler agreed to a sweetened $16.2 billion deal to be acquired by France's LVMH LVMH.PA.

U.S. discount brokerage TD Ameritrade Holding Corp AMTD.O was up 7.58% after larger rival Charles Schwab Corp SCHW.N said it would buy the company in an all-stock deal valued at about $26 billion. Schwab rose 2.30%.

EBay Inc EBAY.O gained 2.08% after the e-commerce major said it would sell ticketing unit StubHub to ticket reseller Viagogo for $4.05 billion in cash.

After the market closed, shares of Palo Alto Networks Inc PANW.N tumbled after the cybersecurity firm's quarterly results.

Major averages on Wall Street have reached a series of new highs recently on hopes for progress of a trade deal and as third-quarter corporate earnings came in better than lowered expectations. Monday marked the fourth closing record for the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq in the past seven sessions.

Failing to participate in the advance, Uber Technologies UBER.N slipped 1.52% as the ride-hailing company was stripped of its license to carry paying passengers in London for the second time in just over two years.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.75-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.30-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 40 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 139 new highs and 61 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.55 billion shares, compared to the 7.03 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Sonya Hepinstall