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By Sinéad Carew
Wall Street advanced on Friday as both Washington and Beijing made positive comments on the potential for a trade deal between the world's two biggest economies and upbeat domestic economic data helped to ease investor worries.
U.S. President Donald Trump told Fox News a trade deal was "potentially very close" following remarks by President Xi Jinping that Beijing wanted to work out an initial agreement.
The S&P 500 and the Dow showed their biggest daily gains in a lacklustre week marked by uncertainty, with a report suggesting the delay of a trade truce to 2020 and U.S. lawmakers passing two bills supporting protesters in Hong Kong, which could complicate U.S.-China talks.
Strategists said it helped that Trump was vague on Friday about whether he would sign or veto the bills.
Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia, attributed Friday's gains to strong U.S. manufacturing data as well as the improving mood on trade. He said investors were cautious about the apparent trade progress, however.
“President Trump saying it's close is news we’ve heard before. How close is close? Close but not quite or close but I could change my mind?" he said. "That’s what’s keeping the market on its heels at the moment, keeping the move a little bit more timid.”
Manufacturing output accelerated in November to its fastest pace in seven months and services activity picked up more than expected.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 109.33 points, or 0.39%, to 27,875.62, the S&P 500 gained 6.75 points, or 0.22%, to 3,110.29 and the Nasdaq Composite added 13.67 points, or 0.16%, to 8,519.89.
Still, the S&P snapped its six-week winning streak, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq registered its first weekly drop in eight weeks and the Dow showed a weekly loss after four weeks of gains. A largely better-than-expected third-quarter corporate earnings season contributed to recent rallies.
Seven of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors closed higher, led by a 0.76% gain in financials and a 0.65% rise in consumer discretionary.
Nordstrom Inc rose 10.6% after the retailer raised its 2019 forecast and reported third-quarter profit above expectations. Gap Inc shares rose 4.4% as the retailer beat lowered quarterly profit estimates days after it cut its annual forecast and replaced its longtime chief executive officer.
Shares of Tesla Inc fell 6% as Wall Street questioned the look of its newly unveiled electric pickup truck, whose "armored glass" windows shattered in a demonstration.
Intuit Inc dropped 4.2% after the income-tax filing software maker forecast second-quarter profit below estimates.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.50-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.40-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 17 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 60 new highs and 84 new lows.
On U.S. exchanges, 5.96 billion shares changed hands compared with the 7.03 billion average for the last 20 sessions.
(Additional reporting by Arjun Panchadar and Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Sonya Hepinstall)