NEW YORK - U.S. stocks reversed course to trade higher on Thursday after a Financial Times report that further U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports would be paused spurred optimism that the two countries could resolve their trade dispute.
Wall Street's major indexes rose on the Financial Times article that U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer told a group of industry executives the next tranche of tariffs on Chinese imports has been put on hold.
After five days of losses, shares of Apple Inc <AAPL.O> also gained 2.6 percent, helping the S&P 500 technology sector <.SPLRCT> gain 2.5 percent.
"We'd be trading sideways for quite a while ... but we've rallied on that headline," said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut. "If we're stopping imposing tariffs and are talking, it's a positive."
Earlier, the S&P 500 and the Dow had declined as disappointing results from retailers as well as a weak outlook from KB Home <KBH.N> dragged down consumer discretionary stocks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 204.4 points, or 0.81 percent, to 25,284.9, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 25.47 points, or 0.94 percent, to 2,727.05 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 118.65 points, or 1.66 percent, to 7,255.04.
Shares of Cisco Systems Inc <CSCO.O> advanced 5.2 percent after the network equipment maker's quarterly revenue and earnings beat analyst estimates. Cisco was among the biggest boosts to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.
Department store operator Dillard's Inc <DDS.N> tumbled 14.0 percent after its third-quarter earnings missed analyst estimates. Likewise, its peer J.C. Penney Co Inc <JCP.N> reported same-store sales below analyst expectations.
The gloomy results from Dillard's and J.C. Penney also cast a pall over Walmart Inc <WMT.N> shares, which fell 2.2 percent despite the world's largest retailer beating same-store sales estimates and raising its full-year outlook.
J.C. Penney shares, however, shed earlier losses to climb 13.1 percent after Chief Executive Officer Jill Soltau gave indications of her plans to turn a profit.
KB Home <KBH.N> slumped 16.5 percent after the company cut its fourth-quarter revenue forecast. Shares of other homebuilders, including PulteGroup Inc <PHM.N>, Toll Brothers Inc <TOL.N> and Lennar Corp <LEN.N>, also fell.
Shares of PG&E Corp <PCG.N> extended their losing streak to a sixth day, hitting a 15-year low of $17.71 after the utility company warned that it could face liability in excess of its insurance if its equipment caused the deadly Camp Fire in northern California. PG&E shares were last down 30.4 percent.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.30-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.07-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.
The S&P 500 posted five new 52-week highs and 19 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 16 new highs and 142 new lows.