January 15, 2020 / 7:05 PM / a month ago

US STOCKS-S&P 500 near record high after U.S., China sign Phase 1 trade deal

* Target shares slump as holiday sales miss

* UnitedHealth rises after backing full-year forecast

* Indexes up: Dow 0.39%, S&P 0.19%, Nasdaq 0.19% (Adds comment, updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar and Susan Mathew

Jan 15 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 rose to trade near all-time high on Wednesday after the United States and China signed a Phase 1 trade agreement and pledged to resolve their longstanding tariff dispute that has roiled financial markets in the recent years.

The centerpiece of the deal is a pledge by China to purchase at least an additional $200 billion worth of U.S. farm products and other goods and services over two years, over a baseline of $186 billion in purchases in 2017.

However, the signing of the deal drew lukewarm response from the stock market.

“We had a historic signing but there is nothing in there that was fresh so I think the theme is going to be earnings,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at New Vines Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

President Donald Trump said he would remove all U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports as soon as the two countries complete the Phase 2 trade agreement, on which negotiations will start soon.

At 1:35 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 112.69 points, or 0.39%, at 29,052.36, the S&P 500 was up 6.16 points, or 0.19%, at 3,289.31 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 17.37 points, or 0.19%, at 9,268.70.

Wall Street indexes came off their record highs hit earlier in the session, with disappointing earnings updates from Bank of America and Goldman Sachs weighed on the S&P 500 banking sector which fell 2.1%.

Bank of America Corp reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, but warned of weak net interest income in the first half of 2020, knocking shares 2%.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc edged up 0.4% despite reporting a bigger-than-expected fall in profit as it set aside more money to cover legal costs.

In other earnings-related news, UnitedHealth Group Inc , the largest U.S. health insurer, rose 3.2% as it affirmed its full-year outlook for 2020 adjusted earnings. The healthcare sector, up 0.8%, was a top gainer among the 11 S&P subsectors.

Retailer Target Corp slumped 7.6% after it missed its own expectations for 2019 holiday season sales after reporting a drop in online growth and demand for toys and electronics.

Toymakers Mattel Inc and Hasbro Inc fell 4.4% and 2.6%, respectively, while electronics seller Best Buy dropped 1.1%.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.35-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.40-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 72 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 137 new highs and 13 new lows. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Arun Koyyur)

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