Market Snapshot: Dow set to join S&P 500, Nasdaq at records as China says it will slash tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. goods

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U.S. stock-index futures were headed higher Thursday, setting the stage for a fourth straight day of gains as focus shifts from the rising death tolls from coronavirus to fresh developments in trade between China and America.

How are benchmarks faring?

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMH20, +0.31% gained 119 points, or 0.4%, at 29,360, those for the S&P 500 index ESH20, +0.28% rose 13 points, or 0.4% at 3,348, while Nasdaq-100 futures NQH20, +0.35% advanced 45.75 points to reach 9,427.25, a gain of 0.5%.

On Wednesday, the Dow DJIA, +1.68% rose 483.22 points, or 1.7%, to end at 29,290.85, putting the benchmark just 0.2% from its Jan. 17 record close at 29,348.10. The S&P 500 SPX, +1.13%  gained 37.10 points, or 1.1%, to close at 3,334.69, while the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.43% added 40.71 points, 0.4%, ending the session at 9,508.68, both ending at all-time highs.

For the week, the Dow is up 3.7%, the S&P 500 3.4%, and the Nasdaq has gained 3.9%, as of Wednesday’s close. All three benchmarks are on pace for a fourth straight day of gains.

What’s driving the market?

Signs of further progress in Sino-American trade relations was being credited for positive sentiment early Thursday. A viral outbreak that reportedly originated in Wuhan City, China and has thus far claimed more than 560 lives, infecting more than 28,000, meanwhile, has been shoved in to the back burner in the minds of equity investors.

China said that beginning Feb. 14 it would cut in half tariffs on some $75 billion of U.S. imports, as part of its phase-one trade resolution with the U.S., according to China’s Ministry of Finance.

Tariffs on an array of U.S. goods will be reduced from 10% to 5%, and from 5% to 2.5% on others, the Ministry said. Retaliatory import levies were imposed in September and December as animosities between the Washington and Beijing intensified.

The ministry said the move was made “in order to promote the healthy and stable development of Sino-U.S. economic and trade relations,” according to a translation of the statement.

“The move should not only benefit Chinese companies struggling from the hit to businesses from the coronavirus but may also smoothen the path towards ‘phase two’ talks with the US,” said Raffi Boyadjian, senior investment analyst at XM, in a Thursday research note.

The tariff cuts come as investors have feared that the novel virus in China would hurt the world’s second-largest economy and make it difficult for it to adhere to promises to boost purchases of U.S. goods and services by $200 billion over two years.

However, markets have mostly focused on upbeat data and a barrage of results that have been upbeat.

Meanwhile, The Senate on Wednesday acquitted President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, as expected. He is expected to deliver a speech at 12 p.m. ET.

Looking ahead, investors will be watching for a weekly update on jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, and a report on fourth-quarter productivity at the same time.

Federal Reserve speakers, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan at 9:15 a.m., and Fed Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles will deliver public remarks later in the day.

Which stocks are in focus?

Coronavirus update: At least 500 deaths and Nike closes half of its stores in China