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US markets extend gains on optimism about trade leads

Extending gains for fourth straight session, the US markets ended sharply higher on Friday, with gains of over a percent each, as traders continued to express optimism about trade talks between the US and China. Adding to the optimism, a private report stated that China has offered to go on a six-year buying spree to ramp up imports from the US. As per the report, China would seek to reduce its trade surplus with the US by increasing annual goods imports by a combined value of more than $1 trillion. Besides, the Wall Street Journal report said the US is weighing easing tariffs in an effort to calm markets and give China an incentive to make deeper concessions. According to the Journal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin proposed the idea of lifting some or all tariffs in a series of strategy meetings. The aim of easing the tariffs is to advance trade talks and win China's support for longer-term reforms.

Investors overlooked a report from the University of Michigan showing a substantial deterioration in US consumer sentiment in the month of January. The preliminary report said the consumer sentiment index plummeted to 90.7 in January from the final December reading of 98.3. Street had expected the index to dip to 97.0. With the much steeper than expected drop, the consumer sentiment index tumbled to its lowest level since hitting 87.2 in October of 2016. Meanwhile, a separate report from the Federal Reserve showed industrial production increased by slightly more than expected in December, as jumps in manufacturing and mining output more than offset a sharp pullback in utilities output. The Fed said industrial production rose by 0.3% in December after climbing by a downwardly revised 0.4%in November. Street had expected industrial production to edge up by 0.2% compared to the 0.6% advance originally reported for the previous month.

Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 336.25 points or 1.38 percent to 24706.35, Nasdaq surged 72.76 points or 1.03 percent to 7157.23 and S&P 500 was up by 34.75 points or 1.32 percent to 2670.71.

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