Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell speaks at the Economic Club of Washington January 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. (WIN MCNAMEE)

New York (AFP) – Global stocks mostly rose Thursday, with positive sentiment on US-China trade talks offsetting disappointing holiday sales from some US retailers.

China said that trade talks in Beijing with a US negotiating team had “laid the foundation” to resolve concerns held by both sides in a bruising trade war, essentially echoing upbeat comments from US officials the prior day.

Discussions between US and Chinese officials to find a way out of an impasse that has seen the world’s top two economies impose tariffs on hundreds of billions of goods and imperil global growth have fueled gains in recent days.

Markets have also gotten a lift from a dovish posture by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at a panel discussion January 4 and amplified in Fed meeting minutes released Wednesday.

On Thursday, Powell briefly sent US stocks lower after telling an afternoon Washington event that the Fed’s large securities holdings should be “substantially smaller” than the current level of just under $4 trillion.

But US stocks recovered, with the S&P 500 finishing up 0.5 percent.

“It wasn’t easy, as investors wrestled with some earnings warnings and some comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell but the story of the day once again involved buying the intraday dips and the market remaining resilient to selling efforts,” said a summery from Briefing.com.

London and Frankfurt won modest gains, while Paris edged lower.

In the United States, retailers were an especially weak group after Macy’s cut its profit forecast following a disappointing holiday shopping season. Macy’s ended down 17.7 percent.

Target fell 2.9 percent after it reported a 5.7 percent jump in comparable holiday sales but did not boost its profit forecasts.

Other retailers that fell included Best Buy, down 1.7 percent, Gap, down 3.1 percent and Williams-Sonoma, down 2.4 percent. Walmart gained 0.1 percent.

Analysts said the disappointing holiday performance underscored the challenges facing brick-and-mortar retailers as they shift more to online sales where profit margins are lower.

 – Key figures around 2200 GMT –

New York – Dow: UP 0.5 percent at 24,001.92 (close)

New York – S&P 500: UP 0.5 percent at 2,596.64 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.4 percent at 6,986.07 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.5 percent at 6,942.87 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.3 percent at 10,921.59 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.2 percent at 4,805.66 (close)

EURO STOXX 50:  DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,075.73 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.3 percent at 20,163.80 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.2 percent at 26,521.43 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.4 percent at 2,535.10 (close)

Dollar/yen: UP at 108.49 yen from 108.17 at 2200 GMT

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1502 from $1.1543

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2746 from $1.2789

Oil – Brent Crude: UP 24 cents at $61.68 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 23 cents at $52.59 per barrel


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