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Stocks rise on hopes for a trade deal with China

Traders Patrick Casey, left, and Sal Suarino work

Traders Patrick Casey, left, and Sal Suarino work on the floor of the NYSE on Feb. 15. Credit: AP / Richard Drew

Health care and technology companies helped lift U.S. stocks higher Friday, breaking a three-day losing streak for the S&P 500 and giving the benchmark index its fifth consecutive weekly gain.

Renewed optimism for a potential resolution to the U.S.-China trade conflict helped put investors in a buying mood following a Bloomberg story saying U.S. officials are preparing a deal that could be signed within a month.

The trade war between the world's largest economies has raised prices for consumers and companies. It's also deepened concerns that escalating tariffs could worsen the global economy's slowdown.

Even so, investors' jitters over trade and signs of a slowing global economy have been eased by confidence in the prospects for steady U.S. growth and an increasingly hands-off Federal Reserve.

"Clearly, the tariffs negotiations are moving in the right direction, as far as the market is concerned, and that's positive," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. "The other positive is that the Fed ... [has] been telegraphing that they remain patient on interest rate hikes."

The S&P 500 climbed 0.7 percent, to 2,803.69. That's the index's first close above 2,800 points since Nov. 8. The S&P has notched a weekly gain in nine of the past 10 weeks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 110.32 points, or 0.4 percent, to 26,026.32. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.8 percent, to 7,595.35. -- AP

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