January 18, 2019 / 3:04 PM / 6 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St rises on trade optimism, upbeat manufacturing data

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* Energy stocks lifted by higher oil prices

* Trade hopes boost chips, industrials stocks

* Netflix slips on Q1 revenue forecast miss

* American Express drops after qtrly profit miss

* Indexes up: Dow 0.54 pct, S&P 0.56 pct, Nasdaq 0.39 pct (Updates to open)

By Medha Singh

Jan 18 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s main indexes were on track for their fourth week of gains on Friday, led by technology and industrial stocks, amid hopes that a bitter trade war between the United States and China would finally come to an end.

Also helping sentiment was the latest data showing U.S. manufacturing output increased by the most in 10 months in December, which could allay fears of a sharp slowdown in factory activity.

The trade optimism was carried over from late Thursday session following a report that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was considering lifting some or all tariffs imposed on Chinese imports. The Treasury denied Mnuchin had made any such recommendation.

Trade-sensitive industrials stocks rose 0.85 percent while the Philadelphia SE semiconductor index climbed 0.55 percent. A 0.6 percent rise in technology sector was the biggest boost to S&P 500.

The benchmark index, which closed above its 50-day moving average for the first time since Dec. 3, is now about 11 percent away from its Sept. 20 record close after having rallied from a 20-month low on Christmas Eve.

“Usually these ‘rumors’ aren’t necessarily untrue, they just aren’t true yet, which generally means there is some progress going on but they just don’t want to tell anyone yet,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin.

“Whenever you see a major broad market index cross through these moving averages then it tends to result in a small upturn.”

Schlumberger rose 5.27 percent after the world’s largest oilfield services provider reported a quarterly revenue beat.

The energy sector, which is the best performing S&P sector so far in 2019, rose 1.06 percent, boosted by higher oil prices.

At 9:41 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 130.77 points, or 0.54 percent, at 24,500.87, the S&P 500 was up 14.67 points, or 0.56 percent, at 2,650.63 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 27.93 points, or 0.39 percent, at 7,112.39.

Late on Thursday, Netflix Inc posted record new subscriber additions in the fourth quarter but investors were disappointed with its current-quarter revenue forecast.

Shares of the world’s largest streaming service fell 1.97 percent, pulling back from a more than 4 percent decline in premarket trade.

Netflix remains the best performing FAANG stock this year, rising more than 30 percent. Rest of the FAANG members, which will report their quarterly results in the coming weeks, rose between 0.5 percent and 0.9 percent.

American Express Co fell 2.68 percent and was the top decliner on the Dow after the credit-card company’s fourth-quarter profit fell short of estimates.

Shares of Tesla Inc slid 6.80 percent after the company said it would cut 7 percent of its workforce and forecast a smaller quarterly profit, compared with the preceding quarter.

Earnings season gains momentum as more than 50 S&P 500 companies report results in the upcoming holiday-shortened week, with the U.S. stock exchanges closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Analysts have lowered their fourth-quarter earnings forecast for S&P 500 companies to 14.2 percent from 20.1 percent estimated on Oct. 1, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 3.72-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 2.06-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded three new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded nine new highs and five new lows. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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