NEW YORK | Global stocks rise on optimism over US-China trade talks

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks extended their gains in midday trading on Wall Street Wednesday as investors remain optimistic that the U.S. and China will make more progress in resolving their trade dispute.

Banks and energy companies helped lead the market higher Wednesday, a sign that investors expect the economy to remain healthy.

Government forecasters are sticking to their forecast that the United States, already the world’s biggest oil producer, will become a net exporter of crude and petroleum products in 2020.

Key officials from the world’s two largest economies will meet Thursday and Friday to try and stave off an escalation of a trade conflict that has hurt companies and consumers by raising prices on a number of products. President Donald Trump has said he might let a March 2 deadline slide if the U.S. and China get close to a deal.

After March 2, additional tariffs are scheduled to kick in, making the situation worse. Economists and analysts are optimistic that both sides will eventually hammer out an agreement that satisfies U.S. complaints that China steals or pressures U.S. companies to hand over technology.

Meanwhile, U.S. companies are nearing the end of a relatively strong earnings season. Hotel operator Hilton gained after reporting profit and revenue that easily beat analysts’ forecasts. Groupon fell as lower sales resulted in weak fourth-quarter profit.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 77 points, or 0.3 percent, to 25,505 points as of 11:50 a.m. The S&P 500 index rose 0.2 percent and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.1 percent.

LEVEL UP: Video game maker Activision Blizzard gained as it moves to layoff nearly 800 workers, in part to deal with a steep downturn in revenue following the best year in its history. The maker of “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush,” expects revenue to fall about 20 percent this year.

The company is facing tougher competition, specifically from Epic Games’ “Fortnite”, which is siphoning away sales.
The stock rose 4.5 percent.

BAD DEAL: Groupon fell 13.5 percent after the online daily deal service came up short of analysts’ profit forecasts for the quarter. Customer traffic in its key North America market fell, dragging down revenue.

ROOM SERVICE: Higher room rates pushed hotel operator Hilton Worldwide to a strong fourth-quarter profit, beating analysts’ forecasts. The company also gave Wall Street a strong profit forecast for the current quarter.

Hilton’s stock rose 5.9 percent and competitor Marriott rose 3.2 percent.

OVERSEAS: Stocks in Europe rose broadly, despite a report of slumping industrial output across the 19 countries that use the euro. Industrial output fell 4.2 percent in December, marking the worst rate of decline since November of 2009.
Asian markets were also higher.

By Associated Press