Stock benchmarks closed Wednesday in positive territory, but on their intraday highs, as investors reacted to upbeat comments on U.S.-China trade talks and weighed a shaky private-sector employment report.
What did the major indexes do?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA, + 0.15%
rose 39 points, or roughly 0.2%, to 26.218.13, but had as high as 26.282. Meanwhile, the S & P 500 index
SPX, + 0.21%
gained 6.16 points, 0.6% gold, to 2,873.40. The Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP + 0.60%
added 46.86 points, or 0.6%, to 7,895.55. The S & P had been up as much as 18 points, while the Nasdaq rose roughly 90 points at its peak.
DJIA, + 0.15%
Wednesday's session left the S & P 500 just 2% below its all-time closing high of 2,930.75, hit on Sept. 20.
What drove the market?
U.S. stocks followed the lead of global equities, which is reported in the US and China. "Ninety percent of the deal is done, but the last 10% is the hardest part," said Myron Brilliant, executive vice president for international affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce. Trade, adding that talks are in the "endgame stage," according to the Financial Times.
High-level discussions that began in Beijing last week were set to resume Wednesday in Washington, China Vice Premier Liu He prepared to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, where a final trade agreement could be signed, but the timing of a deal remains uncertain.
Meanwhile, the Caixin China services purchasing managers index, which gauges the country's private sector, rose to a 14-month high in March. Upbeat data from China at U.S. stocks Monday, a global growth outlook was stabilizing.
ADP, which estimated the U.S. private sector added 129,000 jobs in March, the weakest reading in 18 months and below consensus expectations of 165,000, according to an Econoday survey of economists.
Though the ADP report does not always follow the assessment of job growth, it should be noted that it could be signaling weakness in the labor market. Low unemployment and optimistic U.S. consumers have been the main factors pointed to by stock-market.
Federal Reserve policy was also in focus after a report by the Wall Street Journal Chairman of the Chairman Jerome Powell, whom he has repeatedly criticized to "Republican senators, supporters and staffers" for Powell's decision to raise interest rates 2018. The president reportedly believes that the economy would be stronger and the stock market more buoyant absent these moves.
The president blames Mnuchin for recommending Powell for the job, while reportedly telling Powell in a recent conversation that "I guess I'm stuck with you."
See: Here's one way to global economic growth is bottoming out
Which stocks were in focus?
Pilots at the controls of the 737 Max aircraft that crashed last month in Ethiopia Boeing Co.
But still failed to recover control, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people briefed on the preliminary findings of the crash probe. Boeing stock fell 1.5% Wednesday.
Shares of GameStop Corp.
closed 4.7% lower Wednesday. The company late Tuesday issued guidance that was less than what Wall Street forecast.
Shares of Blue Apron Holdings Inc.
APRN, + 7.34%
were told by Chief Executive Officer Bradley J. Dickerson had resigned. The company appointed Etsy executive Linda Kozlowski to replace him. Shares rose 7.3%.
Signet Jewelers Ltd.
GIS, + 0.54%
stock rose 0.6%, after the jeweler reported fiscal fourth quarter sales and earnings that beat expectations.
Shares of Tyson Foods Inc.
were in focus after a subsidiary of the processed foods company, AdvancePierre Foods Inc., announced a recall of more than 20,000 pounds of ready-to-eat beef patties. The stock fell 0.5% Wednesday.
Opinion: Blue Apron's new CEO has a thankless task
What other data was in focus?
Markit's March 55.3, consensus consensus expectations of 54.8, according to FactSet. A reading of at least 50 indicates improving conditions, while those below that level contraction denotes.
The Institute for Supply Management's sector-specific services fell to 56.1% in March, down from 59.7% in February. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a 58.1% reading.
What were the analysts saying?
Between last month 's jobs report and today' s ADP report, Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E – Trade, wrote in an email. "Over the past five years it's one of the lowest reads," he added.
"That said, we're far from crisis levels," he added, "We'll be watching this trend persists."
"Stocks are rallying on hopes for a better-than-expected trade deal as senior U.S. and Chinese officials meet in Washington this week," Alec Young, Managing Director of Global Research Markets at FTSE Russell, wrote in an email.
"Trade matters because it could impact corporate earnings," as they increase their costs, while their removal would increase earnings expectations, he added. "The catch is that Washington would need a credible enforcement mechanism by which to ensure Chinese compliance with any deal. That would come in the form of an ability to quickly re-impose tariffs should the Chinese fail to comply. "
How did other markets trade?
Stock markets in Asia Wednesday, with Japan's Nikkei
NIK + 0.05%
closing 1% higher, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index
and the Shanghai Composite
SHCOMP, + 0.94%
both adding 1.2% on the day.
European markets were also drunk, with the Stoxx Europe 600
rising 1%, its fourth consecutive day of earnings.
In commodities markets, the price of crude oil
fell, threatening to snap its three-day winning streak, while the price of gold
GCM9, + 0.10%
was virtually unchanged. The U.S. dollar
meanwhile, retreated 0.3% against its peers.
William Watts contributed to this article