Stocks jump as trade war fears ease; Amazon, Facebook rally

Stocks in the U.S. are climbing Thursday and major indexes in Europe surged as global markets continue a rally that began late the previous day. Wall Street is getting more optimistic that a trade dispute between the U.S. and China, the two largest economies in the world, will be resolved without too much pain. Some of the biggest gains are going to retailers and banks.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index climbed 24 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,668 as of 3 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 287 points, or 1.2 percent, to 24,551. The Nasdaq composite added 45 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,087. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 10 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,542.

Stocks tumbled Wednesday morning after the U.S. and China each announced tariffs on about $50 billion in goods made by the other country, but they turned higher as officials in both countries reassured investors that they are willing to talk and aren’t rushing into a trade war that could hurt global economic growth and company profits.

THE QUOTE: Stocks have been on a wild ride: as of Wednesday, the S&P 500 had either risen at least 1 percent or fallen at least 1 percent in eight of the last nine days. Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial, said concerns about trade and big companies like Facebook and Amazon are blotting out almost everything else for now.

“Very often the reaction in the market is ‘sell first and ask questions later,'” she said.

But that could change next week as companies start to report their first-quarter results. That will give investors more insight into the effects of the recent corporate tax cuts on company profits and spending, as well as how the proposed tariffs might affect different industries.

“What’s going to be helpful is … to hear from different sectors and watch what the CEOs and CFOs tell us about how they are factoring in the tax cuts, what they plan on doing with the extra cash on their balance sheets, and also what do they say about the potential tariffs,” she said.

COMING BACK: Apple gained $2.41, or 1.4 percent, to $174.02. Facebook rose $4.07, or 2.6 percent, to $159.17 after CEO Mark Zuckerberg told reporters that the ongoing privacy controversy has not caused a meaningful decrease in users. The company also plans to explain the data it gathers from users more clearly and restrict the user data outsiders can access. At the same time, Facebook revealed that as many as 87 million users may have had their data exposed in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, more than the 50 million disclosed in published reports.

The stock is down 14 percent since March 16.

After they tumbled a day ago, Deere picked up $3.01, or 2 percent, to $151.58 and Boeing rose $8.35, or 2.5 percent, to $335.79. Caterpillar, which made a small gain Wednesday, rose another $3.30, or 2.3 percent, to $148.48.

Retailers and consumer-focused companies built on their gains from the previous day. Amazon advanced $42.21, or 3 percent, to $1,452.78 and Netflix added $6.83, or 2.4 percent, to $295.77. Nike picked up $1.14, or 1.7 percent, to $69.56.

OVERSEAS: The German DAX jumped 2.9 percent and the CAC 40 in France rose 2.6 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 surged 2.4 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 surged 1.5 percent and South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.2 percent. Markets in Hong Kong were closed for holidays.

BONDS: Bond prices dipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.83 percent from 2.81 percent.

That sent interest rates higher, which helped banks. JPMorgan Chase gained $1.58, or 1.4 percent, to $112.01 and Citigroup added $1.15, or 1.7 percent, to $70.46.

Companies that pay hefty dividends, such as utilities and real estate investment trusts, lagged the rest of the market. Their large dividend payments make those stocks similar to bonds, and investors find the stocks more appealing when bond yields are low.

DOGGIE DISH DEAL: J.M. Smucker is buying Ainsworth Pet Nutrition for $1.9 billion. Ainsworth’s brands include Rachel Ray’s pet food brand Nutrish, and Smucker already owns Kibbles ‘n Bits and Meow Mix. It’s just the latest purchase of a pet food company by a packaged food maker as they try to cope with slower sales. In February, General Mills agreed to buy Blue Buffalo Pet Products for $8 billion.

Smucker rose 42 cents to $124.12.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude added 17 cents to $63.54 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 31 cents to $68.33 per barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline and heating oil both remained at $1.98 a gallon. Natural gas fell 4 cents to $2.68 per 1,000 cubic feet.

METALS: Gold fell $11.70 to $1,328.50 an ounce. Silver gained 10 cents to $16.36 an ounce. Copper jumped 6 cents to $3.07 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 107.12 yen from 106.74 yen The euro fell to $1.2256 from $1.2280.

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AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jay