Wall Street rises as Apple leads tech rebound, trade worries soften

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – A rise in Apple led a rebound in technology shares and boosted all three major stock indexes on Thursday, while trade worries eased after China said it was open to fresh talks with the United States.

The bluechip Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its highest since Feb. 1 and is about 2 percent shy of its all-time high hit on Jan. 26. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq had already moved past their January peaks to record highs in prior weeks.

The technology sector climbed 1.11 percent on the day, the most among the 11 major S&P sectors, boosted by Apple’s 2.5 percent jump.

Apple, which has said tariffs could hit a “wide range” of its products, fell 1.2 percent on Wednesday when it unveiled its largest-ever iPhone, but made only small, widely expected changes to its line-up.

“It is a risk-on environment today and if risk is truly going to be on, then technology is definitely going to lead,” said Michael Antonelli, managing director, institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

The Trump administration on Wednesday invited Beijing to restart trade talks, even as Washington prepared to slap tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. The timing of the talks remains unclear and President Donald Trump said there is no pressure to make a deal.

Still, the trade-sensitive industrial sector rose 0.39 percent. Caterpillar was up 0.7 percent and Boeing rose 0.8 percent.

U.S. consumer prices rose less than expected in August and underlying inflation pressures also appeared to be slowing, a report from the U.S. Labor Department showed.

“Tame inflation data is a net positive for markets and this shouldn’t change the Federal Reserve’s decision for two further rate hikes this year,” Antonelli added.

At 11:24 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 100.78 points, or 0.39 percent, at 26,099.70, the S&P 500 was up 10.84 points, or 0.38 percent, at 2,899.76 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 58.01 points, or 0.73 percent, at 8,012.24.

Three S&P sectors were trading lower, with energy stocks down 0.39 percent as oil prices slipped from near four-month highs. [O/R]

Qualcomm rose 3.9 percent after the chipmaker said it would buy back about $16 billion of its stock.

Chipmakers bounced back from a slide on Wednesday, with the Philadelphia semiconductor index up 1.6 percent.

Kroger slid 9.5 percent, the most on the S&P, after the supermarket chain’s same-store sales missed estimates as customers were put off by changes in how it stocked merchandise.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.53-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.25-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 52 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 96 new highs and 33 new lows.