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US markets end higher on trade hopes

The US markets ended higher on Wednesday amid investor optimism the US and China may be close to settling their trade dispute. A private report stated that US and Chinese officials have resolved most of the issues standing in the way of a deal to end their long-running trade dispute. Officials are still haggling over how to implement and enforce the agreement. The two sides remain apart on two key issues the fate of existing US tariffs on Chinese goods and the terms of an enforcement mechanism demanded by Washington to ensure that China abides by the deal. However, service sector growth in the US cooled off in March after a significant acceleration in the previous month, according to a report released by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The ISM said its non-manufacturing index slid to 56.1 in March after jumping to 59.7 in February, although reading above 50 still indicates growth in the service sector. Street had expected the index to show a more modest pullback, with forecasts calling for the index to dip to 58.0.  The bigger than expected decrease by the headline index came as the business activity index tumbled to 57.4 in March from 64.7 in February and the new orders index slumped to 59.0 from 65.2.

Meanwhile, payroll processor ADP released a report showing much weaker than expected private sector job growth in the month of March. ADP said private sector employment rose by 129,000 jobs in March after jumping by an upwardly revised 197,000 jobs in February. Street had expected employment to increase by 170,000 jobs compared to the addition of 183,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month. The report said employment in the service-providing sector increased by 135,000 jobs, while employment in the goods-producing sector fell by 6,000 jobs. While employment at mid-sized and large businesses rose by 63,000 jobs and 60,000 jobs, respectively, employment at small businesses edged up by 6,000 jobs.

Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 39.00 points or 0.15 percent to 26218.13, Nasdaq gained 46.86 points or 0.60 percent to 7895.55 and S&P 500 was up by 6.16 points or 0.21 percent to 2873.40.

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