U.S. stocks rose on Thursday as better-than-expected domestic and Chinese data as well as a steadying yuan offered some comfort to investors rattled by an escalation in trade tensions.
However, the consumer staples sector came under pressure after Kraft Heinz Co shares tumbled 15% as the packaged food maker pulled its full-year forecast and wrote down the value of several business units by over $1 billion.
Markets have been roiled this week on worries of an escalating trade war after a slide in yuan on Monday was perceived as China’s retaliation to President Donald Trump’s latest threat of imposing a fresh round of tariffs on Chinese imports.
The yuan regained some ground on Thursday as China’s central bank set its official midpoint firmer than market expectations, signaling an intent to stabilize a decline in the currency. Exports from the world’s second-largest economy posted a surprise rise, while imports fell less than forecast.
Domestic data also pointed to a robust labor market as the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, allaying some worries about a recession and helping U.S. Treasury yields rise.
“It’s (data) very reassuring for investors because that shows the economics of the world aren’t degrading rapidly,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh.
The benchmark S&P 500 index is looking at its third day of gains but still stands about 4.4% away from its record closing high hit last month.
At 9:44 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 83.38 points, or 0.32%, at 26,090.45, the S&P 500 was up 16.82 points, or 0.58%, at 2,900.80. The Nasdaq Composite was up 49.73 points, or 0.63%, at 7,912.56.
Symantec Corp shares jumped 9.4% after sources said chipmaker Broadcom Inc was in advanced talks to buy the cybersecurity company’s enterprise business.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc gained 9.8% after the chipmaker launched its second generation of its processor chip for data centers and said that it had landed Alphabet Inc’s Google and Twitter Inc as customers.
Lyft Inc advanced 4.3% after the ride hailing service raised its outlook for the year and forecast a faster path to profitability. Rival Uber Technologies Inc, due to report quarterly results after the bell, rose 4.2%.
Shares of Walt Disney Co rose 1.6% after Credit Suisse upgraded its shares to “outperform” on positive investor sentiment as its video streaming service Disney+ closes in on its U.S. launch.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 3.23-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 3.03-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded nine new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 31 new highs and 35 new lows.