US stock indexes move higher on first trading day of 2020

Stocks moved higher on Wall Street in midday trading Thursday as U.S. markets reopened following the New Year’s Day holiday.

The gains followed a rally in overseas markets after China’s central bank said it will free up more money for lending.

Investors have been encouraged in recent weeks as the U.S. and China have taken steps to resolve some of their differences in their long-running trade dispute. Washington and Beijing announced last month that they reached an agreement over a “Phase 1” trade deal that calls for the U.S. to reduce tariffs and China to buy larger quantities of U.S. farm products.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump tweeted that he will sign the initial trade deal with China at the White House next month. He also said he plans to travel to Beijing at a later date to open talks on other sticking points in the dispute that remain to be worked out, including Chinese practices the U.S. complains unfairly favour its own companies.

Technology companies accounted for a big slice of the market’s upward move Thursday. Western Digital climbed 2.6% and Advanced Micro Devices rose 3.8%.

Financial and industrial stocks also notched solid gains. American Express added 1.3% and General Electric rose 3%.

Supermarket operators and household goods makers were among the biggest decliners. Kroger fell 1.8% and Kellogg lost 1.7%.

Health care and utilities stocks also fell broadly. Perrigo dropped 2.4% and FirstEnergy slid 2.1%.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was up 0.2% as of 11:42 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 152 points, or 0.5%, to 28,690. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.5%.

LET’S MAKE A DEAL: Anixter International climbed 3.3% after the supplier of communication and security products agreed to a higher buyout offer from private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier and Rice.

EXECUTIVE EXITS: Shares in Wingstop slumped 4.7% after the operator of chicken wing restaurants said its chief operating officer, Lawrence Kruguer, will resign as of March 7.

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.87% from 1.91% late Tuesday.

ENERGY: Oil prices headed lower, reversing early gains. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 25 cents to $60.81 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, was down 19 cents to $65.81 per barrel.

CHINA BANKING: China’s central bank said it will cut the amount of money banks will be required to have on hand from Jan. 6. The move is expected to boost the country’s slowing economy ahead of the Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan. 25. Companies and individuals typically need large amounts of cash on hand during China’s most important annual holiday to pay bonuses, clear debts and cover other expenses.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: Major indexes in Europe rose. Germany’s DAX was 1.1% higher, while France’s CAC 40 rose 1.2%. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 1%. In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 1.1% and South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.0%. Tokyo’s market was closed for the New Year’s Day holiday.

Alex Veiga, The Associated Press