Stocks rally on hopes that trade tensions will ease

China delaying tariff retaliation

By Anneken Tappe, CNN Business
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

(CNN) - The Dow and the broader US stock market rallied sharply Thursday, buoyed by hopes that trade tensions between the United States and China might ease.

The Dow closed 326 points, or 1.3% higher, while the S&P 500 finished 1.3% higher. The Nasdaq Composite closed up 1.5%. It was the best day for stocks in roughly two weeks. Even so, August is shaping up to be the second worst month for stocks this year, according to Refinitiv.

The optimism follows comments by a Chinese government official Thursday suggesting Beijing is hoping for continued trade talks with the United States.

A spokesman for China's ministry of commerce said Thursday that his country is willing to resolve the trade dispute "with a calm attitude," according to multiple reports.

"Despite numerous false starts, investors are once again optimistic about US-China trade progress," said Alec Young, managing director of global markets research at FTSE Russell, in emailed comments.

"The news around China throwing out an olive branch gave everybody hope that it leads to some de-escaltion and cooler heads prevail," JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, told CNN.

Asian markets nonetheless closed lower, as investors in the region remain concerned.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Bloomberg on Wednesday that further trade talks with China will happen, but didn't specify when.

Last week, China announced retaliatory tariffs on US imports, a move that was met with frustration and further threats of retaliation by President Donald Trump.

All in all, markets are still at the mercy of trade headlines.

Bond yields remain subdued across the board, signaling the market's concern about a global economic slowdown, Kinahan said. The 10-year Treasury yield is at 1.498%, while the 30-year yield is at 1.966%, after having fallen to its lowest level on record Wednesday.

On the economic data front, second quarter GDP growth was revised down to 2%, from 2.1% at the first reading last month. The revision was in line with the consensus estimate.

The U.S. international trade deficit in July stood at $72.3 billion, lower than expected and less than in June, as exports grew according to advance trade in goods data from the Census Bureau.

Jobless claims for the week ending July 24 came in at 215,000, roughly in line with expectations.

Pending home sales for July dropped 2.5%, more than expected, suggesting the housing market could be weak in the third quarter.

— Matt Egan contributed to this story.

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