US shares continue to edge higher on trade deal hopes
US stocks rose again on renewed hopes the US and China can resolve their trade war.
High-level talks between both countries are taking place in Beijing today and Friday, with reports Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet the US delegation tomorrow.
In Beijing, US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin was optimistic about the chance of an agreement and said he hoped for productive meetings.
Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump said he was prepared to give negotiators more time if they were close to a deal by March 1, when higher tariffs on $US200 billion worth of Chinese imports are due to kick in.
Mr Trump has also moved closer to supporting a congressional deal on border security aimed at averting another government shutdown.
The three major stock indices rose again following a strong rally yesterday.
However, the increases were limited by a tweet from Republican senator Marco Rubio announcing a bill to raise taxes on share buybacks to the same rate as taxes on dividends.
The S&P 500 was driven by oil firms, trade-related stocks and chipmakers with most sectors on the rise.
Markets were also boosted by inflation data that showed US consumer prices were unchanged for the third month in a row.
The US Labor Department said the consumer price index rose 1.6 per cent over the year to January.
It increased 1.9 per cent over the year to December, the slowest annual pace in one-and-a-half years.
A fall in petrol prices offset rises in the cost of food, rent, health care, cars and clothes.
Core inflation rose by 0.2 per cent over the month, giving the Federal Reserve more scope to leave interest rates on hold for an extended period of time.
In London, the FT 100 put on 0.8 per cent to be at the highest level in four months.
Oil continued to increase after Saudi Arabia promised to cut production further, that is despite a rise in US stockpiles.
Coming up today in Australia, companies reporting profit results include AMP, Woodside Petroleum and Telstra.