By Paul J. Davies
U.S. stocks rose Friday after Chinese President Xi Jinping called for Beijing and Washington to strengthen communications, prompting cautious optimism on trade negotiations.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.3%, after declining for three consecutive sessions. The S&P 500 rose 0.2%, while the Nasdaq Composite added less than 0.1%.
All three indexes are within 1% of record highs set earlier this week but are also on track to break multiweek winning streaks.
The U.S. and China are at a critical juncture and should avoid misunderstandings while pushing relations in the "right direction," Mr. Xi said Friday during a meeting with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, according to state media.
China's top leader also said his country has "been working actively to try not to have a trade war," according to reports from Reuters and Bloomberg News on comments made at a forum in Beijing. China wants to work toward an initial deal on the basis of "mutual respect and equality, " he said in a rare set of remarks about the trade negotiations between the world's two largest economies.
The comments led to some speculation that the U.S. and China may aim at striking a trade deal early next year. Investors are reconciling themselves to an accord not materializing by the end of 2019 after conflicting signals on the progress of the negotiations this week dampened market sentiment and weighed on global stocks.
"It's clear-cut that a deal can help China," said Salman Ahmed, chief investment strategist at Lombard Odier Investment Managers. "Under the hood, we can see the damage being done to its economy."
But traders have gotten used to headlines on trade talks that oversell progress and don't appear to be biting hard on Friday. "There is a lot of incentive to water it down," said Jason Pride, chief investment officer of private wealth at Glenmede. "We're going into a presidential cycle, with an administration seeking re-election and pointing to the economy as a reason for re-election, and we have an item that could directly impact the economy."
Shares of Nordstrom jumped 10% after the department-store chain's third-quarter profit beat Wall Street's expectations.
Tesla fell 5.7% after the electric-vehicle maker unveiled its new pickup truck, dubbed the "Cybertruck."
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.762%, from 1.771% on Thursday. Yields fall as prices rise.
The University of Michigan's final consumer sentiment index for November rose unexpectedly, hitting 96.8, above the October level of 95.5.
Overseas, surveys of purchasing managers published Friday show that declines in factory activity in Japan and Europe are becoming less severe, although service providers reported less-buoyant growth than in earlier months.
The eurozone economy was on the edge of stagnation in the three months through September, and the survey of purchasing managers indicated that a rebound is unlikely in the final quarter.
European markets had a mixed reaction to German and French industrial-survey data. Stocks rose, with the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 index advancing 0.4%, but bond yields fell as some investors remained concerned about growth prospects for the region.
Asian markets were mixed. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended the day up 0.5% and the Shanghai Composite gauge finished 0.6% lower.
In commodities, gold futures were flat at $1,463.60 a troy ounce. U.S. crude oil futures fell 1.4% to $57.77 a barrel.
Write to Paul J. Davies at firstname.lastname@example.org