US stocks rally ahead of Trump-Xi talks

Crunch time in Buenos Aires (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB)

Wall Street finished a banner week on a positive note on Friday, borne higher by optimism about US-China trade talks while Microsoft overtook Apple in market value.

After treading water much of the morning, US stocks pushed higher after US President Donald Trump spoke somewhat hopefully about talks scheduled for Saturday night with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires.

Earlier, European stocks retreated while Asian stocks advanced.

"There's some good signs. We'll see what happens," Trump said in Buenos Aires.

"If we could make a deal, that would be good. I think they want to and I think we'd like to."

FTN Financial's Chris Low was encouraged by the signing of a North American trade agreement earlier Friday by Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto but said analysts were skeptical of a breakthrough on China.

"It was reassuring to see the...signing of the (NAFTA) agreement and Trump hinting that some kind of deal was likely to be worked out with China, although all the commentaries I read say, 'Don't believe it,'" Low said.

Major US indices all finished the session solidly higher to cap a strong week. The S&P 500's weekly gain of 4.8 percent was the best since December 2011.

The Nasdaq finished the session up 0.8 percent in a session notable for Microsoft's rise above Apple's market capitalization. The software giant's shares climbed 0.6 percent, leaving it at $851.2 billion, edging out Apple by nearly $4 billion in value.

It was the first time in eight years that Microsoft closed above Apple, which slipped 0.5 percent.

- Lingering doubts -

But European bourses finished down, with Brexit worries weighing especially on London.

"The risks still remain tilted to the the tensions over trade and politics between China and the US hang over sentiment like a dark cloud," noted CMC Markets UK analyst Michael Hewson.

"We shall see but as the song says it takes two to tango, and it's not immediately clear that the United States wants to."

Beyond the G20, traders are eyeing the following weekend's gathering of OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers, where Saudi Arabia and others are expected to cut output in a bid to support prices.

But oil prices dipped Friday in volatile deals, one day after New York crude had ducked below $50 per barrel for the first time in almost 14 months.

Among individual companies, hotel chain Marriott International slumped 5.6 percent after announcing it suffered a hack of data on as many as 500 million guests in the Starwood reservation database, which the company acquired in 2016.

- Key figures around 2200 GMT -

New York - Dow Jones: UP 0.8 percent at 25,538.46 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.8 percent at 2,760.17 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: 0.8 percent at 7,330.54 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.8 percent at 6,980.24 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.4 percent at 11,257.24 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.1 percent at 5,003.92 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: FLAT at 3,173.13 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.4 percent at 22,351.06 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.2 percent at 26,506.75 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.8 percent at 2,588.19 (close)

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 52 cents at $50.93 per barrel

Oil - Brent Crude: DOWN 80 cents at $58.71 per barrel

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1300 from $1.1393 at 2200 GMT Thursday

Dollar/yen: UP at 113.54 yen from 113.48

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2800 from $1.2791