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US markets settle higher as US-China trade optimism persists

Extending their previous session's rally, the US markets ended higher on Wednesday after President Donald Trump said he may let a China trade-deal deadline slide if the two sides were making enough progress. Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to meet key members of the US delegation on Friday. A third day of bilateral trade negotiations was under way in Beijing, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer expected Thursday for more high-level discussions. Further, some support also came on optimism about avoiding another government shutdown as President Donald Trump said he was not happy with a tentative deal reached by lawmakers but did not specifically reject the proposal. The agreement includes far less money for physical barriers on the border than Trump has demanded, although political observers have suggested the president will likely want to avoid another damaging shutdown.

On the economic front, consumer prices in the US were unchanged for the third straight month in January, according to a report released by the Labor Department. The Labor Department said its consumer price index was unchanged in January, matching the revised reading for December. Street had expected consumer prices to inch up by 0.1 percent. The unchanged reading on consumer prices came as another steep drop in energy prices was offset by increases in prices for other goods and services. The report said energy prices plummeted by 3.1 percent in January after tumbling by 2.6 percent in December and 2.8 percent in November. Prices for gasoline continued to lead the way lower, plunging by 5.5 percent in January following a 5.8 percent nosedive in December.

Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 117.51 points or 0.46 percent to 25543.27, S&P 500 gained 8.30 points or 0.30 percent to 2753.03 and Nasdaq was up by 5.76 points or 0.08 percent to 7420.38.

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