Stocks up on China trade talk report

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Stocks closed up Thursday as an encouraging report on U.S.-China trade talks offset the effect a disappointing gross domestic product (GDP) report.

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According to Reuters, China has made proposals in talks with the United States on a range of issues that go further than it has previously, as the two sides work to overcome obstacles to end their protracted trade war.

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The new Chinese offer may reflect Beijing's calculation that, since the Mueller report found no evidence of collusion between Trump's campaign team and the Kremlin, the president is likely to win re-election and be someone China must deal with for six more years.

Meanwhile, U.S. economic growth slowed more than expected in the fourth quarter following downward revisions to consumer and business spending. GDP increased at a 2.2 percent annual rate from October through December. That missed the Refinitiv forecast of 2.4 percent, and was below the 2.6 percent growth rate in last month’s estimate.

The economy grew at a brisk 3.4 percent pace in the third quarter. Digging into the report, corporate profits were unchanged for the first time since third quarter 2016, and down from a 3.5 percent growth rate in the July-September quarter.

Concerns about both U.S. and global economic growth prospects drove many investors into Treasurys, where yields were falling. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.

TickerSecurityLastChange%Chg
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES25628.9-623.34-2.37%
SP500S&P 5002847.11-75.84-2.59%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX7751.765644-239.62-3.00%

Meanwhile, gold was taking a hit, tumbling more than 1.5 percent, on a stronger dollar.

Another negative market signal came from Germany, where the yield on the government’s 10-year bond turned negative.

The market was buoyed by PVH Corp., which owns retail brands Van Heusen, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and IZOD.

TickerSecurityLastChange%Chg
PVHPVH CORP69.01-3.73-5.13%
ACNACCENTURE PLC192.81-3.53-1.80%
NLSNNIELSEN HOLDINGS20.02-0.66-3.19%

Shares of business consulting services company Accenture were also rising strongly.

Nielsen Holdings shares fell on word that Blackstone Group will not proceed with a plan to take the media measurement company private.

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In Asia, the Hang Seng closed up 0.16 percent, the Shanghai Composite ended down nearly 1 percent and Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed down 1.61 percent.

In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.7 percent, France’s CAC 40 added 0.25 percent and Germany’s increased 0.37 percent.