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VOL. 42 | NO. 48 | Friday, November 30, 2018

Stocks climb as investors hope for Trump-Xi trade progress

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks climbed again Friday as investors waited for President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping of China to meet and discuss trade, a meeting they hope will start to resolve the nations' trade dispute. The U.S. market jumped this week after falling to a six-month low the week before.

Technology and health care companies made the largest gains Friday. Energy companies slipped as U.S. crude oil fell again, and briefly traded under $50 a barrel. The price of crude oil dropped 22 percent in November, its worst month in a decade. Hotel operator Marriott tumbled after it announced a data breach that could affect 500 million guests.

The rally this week helped the market finish with a modest gain in November, but the S&P 500 is still 5.8 percent away from the all-time high it set in late September. Among other issues, that drop reflects investors' pessimism that the U.S. and China will resolve their differences without causing damage to the global economy. They have been sparring for months over issues including China's technology policy.

"The outlook for the global economy in 2019 does depend on some peace in the trade dispute between the U.S. and China," said David Kelly, chief global strategist for JPMorgan Funds. He said global stocks will probably jump if the two leaders announce the framework of a deal and fall if they don't. In any case, he thinks the two sides will reach an agreement by early 2019.

"Nobody's got much to gain from fighting a trade war, but we both are threatened with recession," he said.

The S&P 500 index gained 22.40 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,760.16. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 199.62 points, or 0.8 percent, to 25,538.46. The Nasdaq composite jumped 57.45 points, or 0.8 percent, to 7,330.54. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 7.88 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,533.27.

The U.S. has announced tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports so far, with the tax rate on many products set to rise Jan. 1, while China put new taxes on $110 billion in U.S. goods. Investors are concerned that the lingering dispute will keep businesses from spending money. That might not change even if the nations announce a cease-fire on new tariffs or the outlines of a deal this weekend.

"There's still a long way to resolve all of the issues," said Kate Warne, an investment strategist with Edward Jones. "I suspect we'll continue to see more of the back and forth that we've seen this week, prompting further market volatility as well as greater uncertainty."

Among technology companies, Intel gained 3.4 percent to $49.31 and Nvidia climbed 3.9 percent to $163.43. Microsoft rose 0.6 percent to $110.89. Apple lost 0.5 percent to $178.58, which meant Microsoft surpassed Apple as the world's most valuable publicly traded company. Microsoft's current market value is $851.2 billion to $847.4 billion for Apple. Amazon isn't far behind, at $826.4 billion.

Microsoft was the world's most valuable publicly traded company during the dot-com boom, but hadn't held the title since 2000. Apple became No. 1 earlier this decade, when it surpassed Exxon Mobil.

Health care companies climbed as well. Biotech drugmaker AbbVie rose 4.8 percent to $94.27 after it said Pfizer agreed to wait until November 2023 before it starts selling a generic version of AbbVie's inflammatory disease drug Humira in the U.S. The agreement is part of a licensing deal between the companies. Humira is the biggest-selling drug in the world by revenue, and it's responsible for about two-thirds of AbbVie's total sales.

Other biotech drugmakers also traded higher. Gilead Sciences rallied 3.2 percent to $71.94 and Amgen rose 2.9 percent to $208.25.

Bond prices rose further. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 3 percent, its lowest since mid-September, from 3.03 percent.

Marriott said the Starwood data beach began in 2014 and ended in September 2018. It bought Starwood in 2016. The company said the credit card information of some guests may have been taken, along with other personal details. The affected brands include W Hotels, St. Regis, Sheraton, Westin, Element, Aloft, The Luxury Collection, Le Méridien and Four Points.

The Attorney General of New York said she is opening an investigation into the breach. Marriott stock lost 5.6 percent to $115.03.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell more than 3 percent in morning trading and briefly slipped below $50 a barrel. It closed down 1 percent at $50.93 a barrel in New York. Brent crude lost 1.3 percent to $58.71 a barrel in London.

Oil prices have been falling since early October as supplies have built up, partly because the U.S. agreed to hold off on sanctions for countries that import oil from Iran. Investors are also worried that a slowdown in global economic growth will reduce demand for fuels.

The dollar rose to 113.61 yen from 113.43 yen. The euro fell to $1.1309 from $1.1389.

Gold lost 0.4 percent to $1,226 an ounce. Silver fell 1.3 percent to $14.22 an ounce. Copper held steady at $2.79 a pound.

Wholesale gasoline lost 0.9 percent to $1.44 a gallon. Heating oil was little changed at $1.85 a gallon. Natural gas fell 0.7 percent to $4.61 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The FTSE 100 index in Britain shed 0.8 percent and Germany's DAX lost 0.4 percent. France's CAC 40 fell less than 0.1 percent.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.4 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.2 percent. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.8 percent.

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AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP