June 21, 2019 / 3:54 PM / 25 days ago

US STOCKS-S&P 500 hits fresh record high as Pence sparks trade optimism

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* Pence delays speech amid “positive signs” on talks - WSJ

* Trump warned Tehran of imminent attack

* Energy companies gains as crude prices move higher

* Indexes up: Dow 0.45%, S&P 0.23%, Nasdaq 0.14% (Updates prices, comments)

By Amy Caren Daniel and Shreyashi Sanyal

June 21 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 hit a new all-time high on Friday, as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to defer a planned speech on China policy rekindled optimism over trade talks between the world’s two largest economies.

The decision was taken amid “positive signs” that trade talks with China could be back on track, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a senior administration official.

The three main indexes were trading in a tight range rose on the report, with the benchmark S&P 500 index hitting an intraday high of 2,964.15, a day after closing at a record 2,954.18.

The United States and China have said that they would restart their trade talks after a long lull at the Group of 20 summit in Japan next week.

“Investors are cautiously optimistic about the G20 summit. If they make progress then markets will celebrate that,” said Michael Antonelli, market strategist at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

Stocks had their worst monthly performance this year in May on fears of the impact of the prolonged trade war on global economic growth.

Markets opened lower following an escalation in tensions in the Middle East after President Donald Trump delivered a warning to Iran of an imminent attack after Teheran downed a U.S. drone.

The possibility of a disruption of oil flows if the U.S. attacks Iran fueled a 1% rise in crude prices and pushed the energy sector 1.05% higher.

At 11:24 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 120.71 points, or 0.45%, at 26,873.88, the S&P 500 was up 6.83 points, or 0.23%, at 2,961.01. The Nasdaq Composite was up 10.99 points, or 0.14%, at 8,062.33.

Trade-sensitive industrials rose 0.1%, while the technology sector traded 0.1% higher.

Carnival Corp fell for the second day, down 4.94%, and among the biggest decliners. Several brokerages trimmed their price targets after the cruise operator cut its 2019 profit forecast.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.26-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.41-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 31 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 32 new highs and 44 new lows. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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