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US markets end higher after US, China say trade talks to resume

The US markets ended higher on Thursday, with the Dow having its best day in four months, following a report that China has accepted an invitation from the US for a new round of trade talks to be held in late August. China's Ministry of Commerce said that a Chinese delegation led by Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen will travel to the US for trade talks to be held with US Under Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs David Malpass. Further, some support also came on strong corporate earnings from Walmart Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. Walmart reported better than expected second quarter results and raised its full-year guidance.  The results sent Walmart shares surging 9.3% after the company reported its biggest jump in US sales in a decade. Cisco Systems also reported better-than-expected earnings, sending its stock up 3%. The company's results got a boost from an income surge from segments like cyber security and applications. Besides, second-quarter earnings growth of 24.8% was the best since 2004 - excluding the postrecession rebound in 2010. The results pushed the S&P 500 1.5% higher since July 12.

On the economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly edged lower in the week ended August 11. The report said initial jobless claims dipped to 212,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised level of 214,000. Street had expected jobless claims to inch up to 215,000 from the 213,000 originally reported for the previous week. Meanwhile, a separate report from the Commerce Department showed new residential construction rebounded by much less than expected in the month of July. The report said housing starts rose by 0.9% to an annual rate of 1.168 million in July after plunging by 12.9% to a revised rate of 1.158 million in June. Street had expected housing starts to soar by 7.4% to an annual rate of 1.260 million from the 1.173 million originally reported for the previous month.

Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 396.32 points or 1.58 percent to 25558.73, the S&P 500 gained 22.32 points or 0.79 percent to 2840.69 and Nasdaq was up by 32.41 points or 0.42 percent to 7806.52.

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