By Noel Randewich
(Reuters) - Wall Street rallied for a fourth session on Wednesday, propelled by Apple, chipmakers and other trade-sensitive stocks after signs of progress in trade talks between the United States and China.
The benchmark S&P 500 (SPX), now in its longest daily winning streak in nearly four months, is up about 10 percent from a 20-month low it touched around Christmas, lifted by hopes for a deal between the world's two largest economies, which eased some worries over the impact of the trade spat on global growth.
Market participants were also encouraged by strong U.S. jobs data and recent indications the U.S. Federal Reserve is in no rush to raise interest rates.
The Fed released minutes showing a range of policymakers said in December they could be patient about future interest rate increases and that a few did not support the central bank's rate increase that month.
China pledged to purchase "a substantial amount" of agricultural, energy and manufactured goods and services from the United States, the U.S. Trade Representative's office said, as talks wrapped up in Beijing.
The S&P technology index (SPLRCT) rose 1.50 percent, with Apple Inc (O:AAPL) up 1.70 percent despite a Nikkei report that the company had reduced planned production for its three new iPhone models for the January-March quarter.
The company's shares tumbled about 10 percent last week after it warned on holiday quarter sales. Its suppliers, which largely include chipmakers, took another beating on Tuesday after Samsung Electronics (KS:005930) flagged weak chip demand.
The Philadelphia Semiconductor index (SOX) gained 2.52 percent. Chipmakers are among the U.S. multinationals with the highest revenue exposure to China.
"If you want to gauge how investors are viewing the trade talks, just watch tech, and semiconductors in particular," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Wealth Advisors in Chicago.
The energy index (SPNY) led other sectors with a 1.50 percent jump, helped by oil prices at their highest levels in nearly a month.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) rose 0.39 percent to finish at 23,879.12 points, while the S&P 500 (SPX) gained 0.41 percent to 2,584.96. The Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) added 0.87 percent to 6,957.08.
Echoing the Fed minutes released on Wednesday, many policymakers said they could wait on any further interest rate hikes until they had a better handle on whether growing risks will undercut an otherwise solid U.S. economic outlook.
"A more stable Fed is going to lead to more stable markets over time," said Mark Heppenstall, chief investment officer at Penn Mutual Asset Management in Horsham, Pennsylvania.
"Some of the sharp moves in the market were driven by the fact that Fed tightening is starting to have an impact on economic growth and financial conditions."
For the S&P, Wednesday's advance marked the benchmark index's longest streak of gains since mid-September, just before it started retreating from its record high.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.28-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.91-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 27 new highs and 5 new lows.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 8.0 billion shares, compared with the 9.0 billion-share average over the last 20 trading days.
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