© Reuters. Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were on track on Friday to end the final trading day of the first quarter on a strong note, boosted by optimism over trade talks between the United States and China.

The two sides said they made progress on trade talks, which concluded on Friday in Beijing and were called “candid and constructive” by Washington. The Chinese state news agency reported the two countries discussed “relevant agreement


A Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He will head to Washington next week for another round of talks.

“Last-minute window dressing and the prospect of the trade war ending in the very near term is giving a boost to investor confidence, and in turn, we’re closing the quarter with some pretty good gains,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

The benchmark has risen roughly 13 percent so far this quarter.

Trade-sensitive industrials rose 0.8 percent, while chipmakers, which have a large revenue exposure to China, also gained, with the Philadelphia chip index also higher.

The broader technology sector gained 0.7 percent.

The rose 153.18 points, or 0.6 percent, to 25,870.64, the S&P 500 gained 13.32 points, or 0.47 percent, to 2,828.76 and the added 49.40 points, or 0.64 percent, to 7,718.56.

Data released on Friday showed U.S. consumer spending barely rose in January and income increased modestly in February, suggesting the economy was losing momentum after growth slowed in the fourth quarter.

Growth fears were triggered last week when the Federal Reserve abandoned projections for interest rate hikes in 2019 and the U.S. Treasury yield curve inverted for the first time since 2007, historically a harbinger of recession. [US/]

However, the yield curve between three-month bills and 10-year notes had turned slightly positive on Friday.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Axios on Friday that the Fed should “immediately” cut interest rates by half a percentage point.

With the first quarter earnings season just about two weeks away, investors are bracing for what may be the first U.S. profit decline since 2016. Analysts expect quarterly earnings to fall 1.9 percent, according to Refinitiv data.

Ride-hailing startup Lyft Inc (NASDAQ:) surged more than 20 percent after making its debut on the Nasdaq. The stock was last up about 12 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.71-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.53-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 33 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 53 new highs and 38 new lows.

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