Stocks rise for fifth straight week; oil tumbles

Pedestrians exit a subway station near the New York Stock Exchange in New York. (Bloomberg)

NEW YORK: US stocks broke a three-day slide, led by a rally in shares of technology companies, propelling the benchmark S&P 500 to its fifth consecutive weekly gain. Treasuries fell, the dollar strengthened and oil slumped.

The Nasdaq 100 jumped as Amazon announced plans to open new grocery stores and Apple’s chief executive made positive comments, keeping that index on track to post its 10th straight week in the green.

The S&P 500 closed above the 2,800 price level for the first time since November after struggling to hold above the threshold all week.

“People are looking for a catalyst for equities to move up,” said Erik Ristuben, the chief investment strategist at Russell Investments Management, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters.

The psychological level of 2,800 continued to act as resistance for the S&P 500, a point that the benchmark had failed to breach four times in the past five months.

Stocks weakened earlier after the Institute for Supply Management’s gauge of US factories slumped to a two-year low.

They had opened higher in the wake of gains posted overseas after positive economic data from China and prospects of a trade deal improved.

Chinese shares outperformed as an increase in the Caixin manufacturing gauge and confirmation that MSCI will raise the weight of Chinese stocks in its global benchmarks buoyed sentiment.

After a 16% surge from Christmas through the start of this week, MSCI’s gauge of global equities has tread water as investors await progress in US-China trade negotiations.

American officials are preparing a final deal that US President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping could sign in weeks, people familiar with the matter said, even as debate continues in Washington over whether to push Beijing for more concessions.

Meanwhile, geopolitical concerns remain in the background, amid tensions between India and Pakistan and the failure of a summit between Kim Jong Un and Trump to achieve an agreement between the US and North Korea on denuclearisation.