December 16, 2019 / 7:58 PM / a month ago

US STOCKS-Wall St hits fresh highs on trade deal boost

* Trade-exposed tech stocks jump

* Boeing slips on 737 MAX production concerns

* Healthcare sector propped up by UnitedHealth, Amgen

* Indexes up: Dow 0.48%, S&P 0.79%, Nasdaq 0.99% (Updates to late afternoon, changes byline, adds NEW YORK to dateline)

By April Joyner

NEW YORK, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Wall Street hit record highs for the third straight session on Monday as cooling trade tensions between Washington and Beijing and upbeat economic data from China boosted investor sentiment.

U.S. stocks continued their ascent as Friday’s announcement of an interim trade deal between the world’s two biggest economies lifted prospects for the global economy. Though growth in China is expected to continue moderating, the trade developments have brightened the country’s economic outlook, several analysts have said.

Adding to such optimism, data released early on Monday showed that China’s industrial output and retail sales growth accelerated in November.

The U.S.-China trade deal suspended tariffs scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 15 on a variety of consumer products, including Apple Inc’s iPhone. Apple shares rose 1.8% and provided the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and Nasdaq .

Shares of chipmakers, among the most trade-sensitive stocks, also rose. The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index gained 1.4%.

“It validates the best-case scenario people were expecting,” said Oliver Pursche, chief market strategist at Bruderman Asset Management in New York, of the removal of tariffs.

Three interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve this year and mostly encouraging U.S. economic data have also helped push Wall Street stocks to record levels. The benchmark S&P 500 index is up more than 27% this year and on track for its highest annual percentage gain in six years.

“We are seeing themes work together to really drive some confidence in the year end,” said Peter Kenny, founder, Kenny’s Commentary LLC and Strategic Board Solutions LLC in New York.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 135.29 points, or 0.48%, to 28,270.67, the S&P 500 gained 25.08 points, or 0.79%, to 3,193.88 and the Nasdaq Composite added 86.86 points, or 0.99%, to 8,821.74.

The S&P 500 healthcare index rose 1.2% as shares of UnitedHealth Group and Amgen Inc jumped after Goldman Sachs added both companies to its “conviction list.”

UnitedHealth shares rose 2.3%, and Amgen shares moved 3.0% higher.

Boeing Co shares fell 3.7%, limiting gains on the Dow, on reports that the planemaker was considering whether to cut or halt production of its grounded 737 MAX aircraft.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.52-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, a 1.84-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 76 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 213 new highs and 47 new lows. (Reporting by April Joyner; Additional reporting by Uday Sampath and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Nick Zieminski)

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