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U.S. Stocks Remain Mostly Positive In Mid-Day Trading

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After moving to the upside early in the session, stocks remain mostly positive in mid-day trading on Thursday. With the upward move, the major averages have reached new record intraday highs after closing mixed for two straight days.

The major averages have pulled back off their best levels in recent trading but remain firmly positive. The Dow is up 224.01 points or 0.8 percent at 27,716.57, the Nasdaq is up 55.34 points or 0.7 percent at 8,465.97 and the S&P 500 is up 15.09 points or 0.5 percent at 3,091.87.

The resumption of the recent upward trend comes after a spokesman for the Chinese Commerce Ministry said the U.S. and China have agreed to lift existing tariffs in phases.

"The trade war started with tariffs and should end with the cancellation of tariffs," said ministry spokesman Gao Feng, who noted phase one of a trade deal must include both countries simultaneously canceling tariffs on each other's goods.

The U.S. has widely been expected to scrap tariffs on about $156 billion worth of Chinese imports currently set to take effect on December 15th as part of phase one.

"Both sides have agreed to cancel additional tariffs in different phases, as both sides make progress in their negotiations," Gao added without providing a timetable.

The latest news has helped offset the negative sentiment generated by yesterday's report from Reuters indicating a meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could be delayed until December.

A senior Trump administration official told Reuters discussions continue over terms of phase one of the trade deal and a venue for a meeting between Trump and Xi.

Sites in Europe and Asia have been suggested for the meeting, with Sweden and Switzerland among the possibilities, while Trump's suggestion of Iowa appears to have been ruled out, the official said.

The official said China's latest push for more tariff rollbacks was not expected to derail progress toward an interim deal but noted that it was still possible an agreement would not be reached.

In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing a bigger than expected decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended November 2nd.

The report said initial jobless claims slid to 211,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week's revised level of 219,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 215,000 from the 218,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Sector News

Networking stocks have moved sharply lower over the course of the trading session, driving the NYSE Arca Networking Index up by 2.2 percent.

Within the networking sector, CommScope (COMM) is posting a standout gain after reporting better than expected third quarter earnings.

Renewed optimism about a U.S.-China trade deal has also contributed to a rebound by steel stocks, with the NYSE Arca Steel Index surging up by 1.7 percent.

Telecom, financial, and semiconductor stocks are also seeing considerable strength on the day, moving higher along with most of the other major sectors.

On the other hand, gold stocks have shown a substantial move to the downside, dragging the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index down by 4.5 percent.

The sell-off by gold stocks comes amid a steep drop by the price of the precious metal, with gold for December delivery plummeting $30.20 to $1,462.90 an ounce.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index crept up by 0.1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose by 0.6 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index advanced by 0.8 percent, the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.4 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index inched up by 0.1 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved sharply lower over the course of the trading session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 11.9 basis points at 1.933 percent.

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