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Stock Market’s Slow Climb to a Record Continues as Trade Tensions Ease

Stocks in the United States rose again Friday, inching ever closer to an all time record as the thaw between Washington and Beijing continued.

The S&P 500 opened slightly higher, though it remained less than 0.5 percent from the July 26 record of 3026.

Though small, Friday’s early gains extended a three-week long rally that has lifted the S&P 500 by about 6 percent from its August lows. The latest leg higher has come as President Trump and officials in China have taken steps to lower the tension between them as a new round of trade talks approach.

On Friday, official media outlets in China said the country will exempt some American soybeans, pork and other agricultural products from additional tariffs. The details of the exemptions were scant, but the news followed a string of similar announcements from both countries that have raised expectations of a potential end to the standoff between the world’s two largest economies.

President Trump had said on Wednesday that the United States would delay the next round of tariff increases on Chinese imports, which had been set to take effect Oct. 1, two weeks. His announcement came after Beijing said that a small number of American products would be exempt from Chinese tariffs to be imposed soon and that more exemptions would follow.

Investors have been concerned that the prolonged conflict would weigh on the economy and corporate profits, and they’ve been confronted with evidence of this in recent weeks with data on the manufacturing sector, business investment and even consumer sentiment showing a softening. Analysts expect profits at companies in the S&P 500 to grow a scant 2 percent this year.

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