US stock indexes move higher, on track for more record highs

Stocks moved broadly higher in afternoon trading Wednesday as investors welcomed a batch of positive U.S. economic data.

The modest gains had the major stock indexes on track to set all-time highs for the third straight day amid light trading ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday. The market has been notching records in recent weeks as the U.S. and China have signalled that negotiations aimed at resolving their costly trade war are going well.

The latest economic data also helped put investors in a buying mood. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the economy grew at a 2.1% rate last quarter, outpacing forecasts. The government also reported a surprisingly good increase in orders to U.S. factories and a pickup in consumer spending.

Technology and communications companies helped drive the market higher. Texas Instruments rose 1.6% and Comcast gained 1.9%.

Companies that rely on consumer spending also notched solid gains. Expedia Group climbed 2.6%.

Banks also made gains. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.76% from 1.74% late Tuesday. Higher bond yields allow banks to charge more lucrative interest on mortgages and other loans. Wells Fargo rose 0.8%.

Industrial companies lagged the market, weighed down by Boeing and Deere & Co.

The U.S.-China trade war remains the key focus for Wall Street as a Dec. 15 deadline nears for new tariffs on many Chinese-made items on holiday shopping checklists, such as smartphones and laptops. Investors hope that negotiations can progress enough to at least help suspend the scheduled escalation if the nations can’t agree on a full resolution by then.

U.S. markets will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 0.4% as of 1:32 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 41 points, or 0.2%, to 28,162. The Nasdaq rose 0.6%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks rose 0.5%. European and Asian markets moved higher.

WEEKLY RECOVERY: The S&P 500 has so far regained its footing after stumbling last week. The index is on track for a 1.4% weekly gain as it continues setting records.

The Nasdaq is up 2.1% for the week, which would mark its strongest gain since the end of summer.

STALLED TRACTORS: Deere fell 4.4% after giving investors a weak profit forecast because farmers are spending less money on new equipment. The maker of tractors, backhoes and other agricultural machinery said the trade war and a difficult growing season has kept farmers cautious about making major investments.

EXTREME OVERSIGHT: Boeing fell just under 1% after federal safety regulators indicated that they will keep full control over approvals of each new 737 Max built. The Federal Aviation Administration’s decision affects more than 300 finished Max jets currently sitting in storage.


AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise contributed.

Alex Veiga, The Associated Press