Stocks Advance in Early Trade

US Stocks firmed early on Wednesday helped by optimistic US comments about a potential China trade deal, while semiconductor stocks were buoyed by Micron Technologies’ (MU) upbeat results.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an interview with CNBC that the US and China are 90% of the way there on a trade deal and that there’s a path to getting it completed. Presidents Trump and Xi are poised to talk later this week at the Group of 20 meeting in Japan.

Information technology stocks gained 1.4% to lead the sectors on the Standard & Poor’s 500, with chip companies driving the rally higher. Micron jumped more than 11% after saying late Tuesday its fiscal third-quarter results were better than expected.

Western Digital (WDC) rose 7.3%, NVIDIA (NVDA) was 5.2% higher and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) advanced 4.4% as semiconductors posted some of the leading gains on the S&P 500. Intel (INTC) climbed 3.2% in the strongest gain on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Trade-sensitive names including Apple (AAPL) and Dow (DOW) were also stronger, with both rising 2.2%. Health-care stocks were weaker, with Merck (MRK) down 1.7% and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) falling 1.6%, while the sector as a whole was down 0.5% on the S&P.

Energy was up 1.2% with crude-oil prices firming ahead of closely watched US government stockpiles data. West Texas Intermediate, the main US benchmark, was up 2.7% to $59.41 a barrel while Brent, the international gauge, gained 1.8% to $66.22.

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