US Markets

Dow rises in wobbly session as Wall Street digests latest US-China trade developments

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Stocks seesawed on Thursday while investors digested new developments in the ongoing U.S.-China trade war and Wall Street's volatile week approached its end.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 70.11 points higher at 24,597.38 after alternating between gains and losses throughout the day. The fell marginally to 2,650.54, while the Nasdaq Composite dipped 0.4 percent to 7,070.33 as Amazon and Alphabet gave up their initial gains.

Equities rose broadly earlier in the day, with the Dow rising more than 200 points at its session high. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both rose as much as 0.7 percent. 

"It seems like things are headed in the right direction," said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade. But "we're going to be moving a lot until we get some resolution on tariffs."

He said positive sentiment around trade and a sharp rebound in General Electric contributed to the early rise in equities.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported Chinese state-owned companies had bought at least 500,000 tons of U.S. soybeans. It was the first major U.S. soybean purchases in more than six months, and the clearest sign to date that China plans to step up efforts to support its slowing economy.

President Donald Trump also said he would intervene in the Justice Department's case against Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou if it would help smooth over U.S.-China trade relations. Meng was arrested earlier this month; her arrest is seen as a possible detriment to U.S.-China trade talks.

Traders work on the floor at the closing bell of the Dow Industrial Average at the New York Stock Exchange on January 17, 2018 in New York.
Bryan R. Smith | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. stocks finished higher on Wednesday, buoyed by the perceived progress in trade talks between Washington and Beijing.

Uncertainty around these trade talks have sent stocks for a wild ride as Wall Street gauges the potential impact of a prolonged conflict on corporate earnings and the global economy. The major indexes have also traded around correction territory recently, down 10 percent from all-time highs set earlier this year.

Stocks have also traded in wide ranges lately. The Dow has posted intraday swings of at least 570 points in five of the past eight sessions. 

"There have been lots of reversals this week," said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird. "If you want to get constructive in this market, tentativeness at the open is better than widespread gains."

Jeff Saut, chief investment strategist at Raymond James, said Thursday the S&P 500 has finally reached a bottom. "On Oct. 2, we had on our short-term model a sell signal and we told people if you have trading positions you should sell," Saut told CNBC's "Squawk Box." "And we have put some of that money back to work."

General Electric shares jumped more than 7 percent after J.P. Morgan analyst Stephen Tusa, a longtime bear on the company, upgraded GE. The analyst cited a more "balanced risk reward at current levels."