January 2, 2020 / 3:31 PM / 17 days ago

US STOCKS-Wall St starts 2020 at record levels on China stimulus, trade hopes

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* China cuts banks’ reserve ratios again to spur economy

* U.S. weekly jobless claims fall

* Hanesbrands slips after report of Wells Fargo downgrade

* Indexes up: Dow 0.66%, S&P 0.53%, Nasdaq 0.87% (Updates to open)

By Manas Mishra

Jan 2 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s major indexes began the new year at record levels on Thursday, as fresh stimulus from Beijing to prop up its slowing economy added to optimism fueled by easing trade tensions and an improving global outlook.

China’s central bank said on Wednesday it would cut the amount of cash that all banks must hold as reserves, the eighth such cut since early 2018, injecting fresh stimulus into the economy, while boosting global markets.

All three major indexes ended higher on Tuesday after President Donald Trump said an initial U.S.-China trade pact would be signed on Jan. 15. Trump also said he would later travel to Beijing to begin talks on the next phase.

“Trade continues to be a driver for this market,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh.

“We’re trying to figure out when news about trade gets baked in, but talks about phase 2 shows that this isn’t a one and done sort of thing to just repair the damage of the trade war of last year.”

At 09:59 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 187.72 points, or 0.66%, at 28,726.16, the S&P 500 was up 17.19 points, or 0.53%, at 3,247.97. The Nasdaq Composite was up 77.68 points, or 0.87%, at 9,050.29.

Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closed 2019 with their biggest annual percentage gains since 2013, while the Dow notched its biggest yearly percentage gain since 2017.

Latest data from the U.S. Labor Department showed that the number of Americans filing claims for jobless benefits edged lower last week, a positive signal for the U.S. labor market amid recent signs that new claims may be trending slightly higher.

The tech sector was the biggest gainer among the 11 major S&P sectors, with Apple Inc and chipmakers providing the biggest boost.

Among stocks, Hanesbrands Inc slipped 2% after a report that Wells Fargo has downgraded the apparel maker’s shares to “underweight”.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.92-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.39-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 39 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 80 new highs and two new lows. (Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Anil D’Silva)

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