U.S. stocks showed tenuous gains early Wednesday amid new optimism about high-level trade talks set to resume this week between the United States and China.
The Dow Jones industrial average popped more than 190 points, or 0.73%, after Bloomberg News reported that a Chinese official "with direct knowledge of the talks" said that Beijing was open to a partial deal to limit the economic damage the Trump administration's tariffs have wrought.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 21 points, or 0.73% in morning trading while the tech-laden Nasdaq composite advanced 69 points, or 0.89 percent.
European stocks had turned positive on the news, while Asian markets closed mixed on Wednesday as the back-and-forth continues between U.S. and Chinese trade officials.
President Donald Trump has insisted that he wants a broad trade agreement that includes intellectual property protections for American companies doing business in China. But he also has said he would consider a smaller-scale deal, sowing confusion about the precise parameters of what he would require in order to remove tariffs on Chinese imports.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is scheduled to meet Thursday and Friday with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other officials in Washington. The two have been meeting for nearly a year. At times, the negotiations have shown signs of progress, but they have often broken down. To try to force Chinese officials to negotiate, Trump has slapped tariffs - or import penalties - on close to $350 billion in Chinese goods. Tariff rates are set to move higher on Oct. 15, and then even more goods will face import penalties in December.
Trump has alleged that China must change its trade practices in order for him to agree to a pact. He has accused the Chinese government of stealing intellectual property from U.S. companies, unfairly subsidizing domestic firms, and manipulating its currency to create a trading imbalance. He has also demanded that the Beijing boost imports of U.S. agriculture products, such as soybeans and pork.
Chinese officials have expressed an openness to some changes but have stopped well short of Trump's broader demands. There are growing signs that the prolonged standoff is damaging both economies, as economic growth in the U.S. and China appears to be slowing markedly this year.
The continual trade posturing by the White House and Chinese officials have whipsawed stock markets since trade negotiations began in earnest late last year. Some indexes have spiked or plummeted based solely on rumors or partial developments, as traders or computer algorithms react to anything that might be perceived as news.
"The fact that markets are still trading on China trade talk innuendo is proof positive the algorithms are running the short-term show," said Nancy Tengler of Tengler Wealth Management. "Those of us who invest our client's money for the long-term use these bouts of volatility to purchase great companies at a discount and sell expensive holdings to eager buyers."
Wall Street has been in turmoil since the start of the month, bouncing between pessimism over data indicating a slowdown in U.S. manufacturing and optimism over the nation's record low unemployment. The Dow slid more than 300 points Tuesday, or 1.19%, as investors wrestled with dimming prospects for an end to the trade statement.