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US and China near deal that would suspend planned tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration and China are close to finalizing a modest trade agreement that would suspend tariffs set to kick Sunday, deescalating their 17-month trade war. “We’re close to a deal,” says Myron Brilliant, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s head of international affairs, who has been briefed by both sides. Brilliant says the United States has agreed to suspend plans to raise tariffs on $160 billion in Chinese imports Sunday and to reduce existing tariffs — though the amount of the cut was not clear. In return, the Chinese would buy more U.S. farm products, increase Americans firms’ access to the Chinese market and beef up protection for intellectual property rights.

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S&P 500, Nasdaq at records as hopes build for a trade deal

NEW YORK (AP) — The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed at all-time highs Thursday on optimism that the U.S. and China are close to reaching a deal to end their costly trade war. Financial, technology and health care stocks powered the rally, which gave the S&P 500 its second straight gain and erased its losses from earlier in the week. Bond yields surged and shares in real estate companies, utilities stocks and household goods makers fell as investors shifted money away from safe-play investments.

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Europe’s new central banker aims to put her stamp on the job

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Christine Lagarde is wasting no time in putting her stamp on the European Central Bank. The bank’s new president said at her first news conference Thursday that she will lead a review of how the institution sets monetary policy. That will look at everything from how it defines success in fighting inflation to whether it can play a role the fight against global warming. She said the policy review will “turn each and every stone.” It will start in January and finish by the end of 2020. Lagarde spoke after the ECB left unchanged its key interest rates and its monetary stimulus package.

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Saudi Aramco inches near $2 trillion in day 2 of trading

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Shares in Saudi Aramco rose 4.5% on the second day of trading. That propelled the oil and gas company to a value of nearly $2 trillion, where it holds the title of the world’s most valuable company. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had sought a $2 trillion valuation for Aramco when he first announced plans three years ago to sell a sliver of the state-owned company. Aramco sold 1.5% of its shares to mostly Saudi investors and funds on the local Tadawul exchange, with shares trading on Thursday at over 38 Saudi riyals, or above $10. The market closed with share prices settling at 36.8 riyals, or $9.81 a share.

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UK election exit poll suggests Conservative majority

LONDON (AP) — An exit poll in Britain’s election projects that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party likely will win a majority of seats in Parliament. If the result is confirmed, it means Johnson should be able to fulfil his plan to take the U.K. out of the European Union by Jan. 31. The survey predicts the Conservatives will get 368 of the 650 House of Commons seats and the main opposition Labour Party 191.

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Twitter brings back election labels for 2020 US candidates

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Twitter is bringing back special labels to help users identify accounts and tweets from U.S. political candidates. The company says it’s trying to provide users with original sources of information and prevent fake accounts from fooling voters. Many candidates already have blue checkmarks to indicate that Twitter has checked that they are who they say they are. The election labels go further and provide details such as what office a person is running for and where. Facebook also verifies accounts for public figures and celebrities, while YouTube verifies official channels. But they don’t go as far as adding election labels.

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US long-term mortgage rates rise; 30-year loan at 3.73%

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates rose this week. Still, rates remain at historically low levels as a lure to prospective homebuyers. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 3.73% from 3.68% last week. The average rate on a 15-year mortgage rose to 3.19% from 3.14%. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve left its key short-term rate in a low range of 1.5% to 1.75% after having reduced it three times this year. With the Fed’s key rate likely to stay where it is, consumers interested in buying a home or car should continue to enjoy low borrowing costs.

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The S&P 500 climbed 26.94 points, or 0.9%, to 3,168.57. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 220.75, or 0.8%, to 28,132.05. The Nasdaq gained 63.27 points, or 0.7%, to 8,717.32. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks climbed 12.89 points, or 0.8%, to 1,644.81.

The Associated Press