After hours of indecisive trading, stocks finished with modest gains Thursday after President Donald Trump formally ordered tariffs on steel and aluminum imports with terms that were less harsh than investors had feared.
Stocks rallied following reports that Canada and Mexico will be exempted indefinitely from the tariffs and that other countries will be invited to negotiate for exemptions as well.
Congressional Republicans and business leaders oppose the tariffs and have pushed for the administration to take a more measured approach that would invite less backlash from other countries.
“The president’s tone was far more pragmatic,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. “This certainly is not the strict tariff proposal that the president had suggested in the past couple of weeks.”
Health care companies rose after pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts accepted a $52 billion offer from health insurer Cigna. Technology companies also moved higher, but energy companies slipped along with oil prices.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 12.17 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,738.97. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 93.85 points, or 0.4 percent, to 24,895.21. The Nasdaq composite rose for the fifth day in a row, gaining 31.30 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,427.95.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dipped 2.57 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,571.97.