NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks opened broadly higher on Wall Street after President Donald Trump agreed to hold off on raising tariffs on Chinese goods, which would have escalated a damaging trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
Investors had been growing increasingly optimistic over the last two weeks that the U.S. and China were moving closer to a resolution in the trade tiff. The fight is over U.S. complaints that Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology.
Information technology and industrial companies led the early gains. Consumer goods and utility companies lagged the overall market.
The nations faced a March 1 deadline that would have increased punitive duties on $200 billion in Chinese imports. Trump did not set a new deadline. He said there had been “productive talks” on some of the more difficult issues and he’s willing to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping if negotiations progress.
The trade war and its hefty tariffs have already raised prices and costs for businesses and consumers. Any additional escalation could shake investor confidence as an economic slowdown looms over China and Europe.
Elsewhere, oil prices dipped after Trump said they were getting too high. Industrial giant General Electric rose after it announced plans to sell a biotech unit. Spark Therapeutics doubled after pharmaceutical giant Roche offered to buy the gene therapy developer.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial average rose 164 points, or 0.6 percent, to 26,193 as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. The S&P 500 index 0.6 percent and the Nasdaq composite 0.9 percent.
OVERSEAS: China’s main index, The Shanghai Composite, jumped to an eight-month high. Progress with U.S.-China trade talks helped lift markets broadly in Asia and Europe.
GE SHEDS WEIGHT: General Electric is selling its biopharma business to Danaher for $21.4 billion. The sale is yet another step for GE to become smaller. The stock surged 12.7 percent.
GE has been divesting businesses since getting hurt in the financial crisis a decade ago. It slashed its dividend in October along with ousting CEO John Flannery. It also plans to downsize its Boston headquarters.
Barrick kicked off a surge in gold mining consolidation last month when it acquired Randgold Resources for more than $6 billion. Miners are consolidating as gold becomes more expensive to procure.
Newmont has so far shunned Barrick. It has launched its own takeover bid, offering $10 billion for Canada’s Goldcorp.
ENERGY: Trump criticized the rising price of oil in an early morning tweet, sending prices lower. U.S. crude lost 1.6 percent to $56.34 per barrel in New York. Prices are up 23 percent so far this year.
Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 1.8 percent to $65.92 per barrel in London.