US Markets

Dow rises more than 100 points, S&P 500 posts best weekly gain since November

The market is in a 'sweet spot', Leuthold strategist Jim Paulsen says
The market is in a 'sweet spot', Leuthold strategist Jim Paulsen says

Stocks posted strong weekly gains, led by tech shares, as investors cheered renewed optimism on the U.S.-China trade front on Friday. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 138.93 points to 25,848.87 as Boeing shares turned around to close 1.5 percent higher. Boeing's turnaround was sparked by a report saying the company planned to roll out a software upgrade for its 737 Max aircraft. The stock had been under pressure all week after an Ethiopian Airlines flight using a 737 Max plane crashed on Sunday, which prompted several countries to ground flights involving the plane. 

Gains in the tech and consumer discretionary sectors pushed the up 0.5 percent to 2,822.48. Tech shares also bolstered the Nasdaq Composite, which climbed 0.8 percent to 7,688.53.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite both rose at least 2.9 percent, though the laggard Dow gained only 1.7 percent amid Boeing's troubles. The S&P 500 also posted its biggest one-week gain since November.

Stocks have been on a tear this year, with the three major indexes rising more than 10 percent each in 2019.

"Coming off the lows in December, we thought that was a volatility event. We thought we could get back to those all-time highs by about late March to early April," said Craig Callahan, president at Icon Funds. Valuations "still backs up that view."

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE) in New York.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

This week's gains were largely led by tech shares, as the sector surged 4.9 percent. The tech sector also became the best-performer of 2019. Nvidia was the best-performing stock in the sector, rising more than 12 percent while fellow semiconductor stocks like Broadcom and Lam Research also rose sharply this week.

Semiconductor shares rose broadly on Friday, as the VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH) climbed 2.7 percent. Broadcom shares led the gains, rising more than 8 percent after the company reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings.

"There's less of a reason to sell; it's more of a reason to just sit tight and see which way things go," said Michael Katz, managing partner at Seven Points Capital. "Everybody is looking for a dip that's not really coming."

"Barring any macroeconomic news, any North Korea-related news, any negative news coming out of the China trade deal, I think the momentum is still just holding," Katz said. "At the same time, [the market] is getting up there."

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He spoke via telephone with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Xinhua news agency reported Friday. The report, according to The South China Morning Post, said: "The two sides have further made concrete progress on the text of the trade agreement between the two sides."

The news comes after CNBC reported Thursday that Chinese negotiators suggest combining a state visit to the U.S. with the signing of a trade deal. Beijing wants a deal to be fully ironed out before President Xi Jinping meets with U.S. President Donald Trump.

"US-China trade negotiations will likely reach a temporary deal, transforming future negotiations into a framework to monitor China's compliance with trade and intellectual property policies," Alberto Gallo, head of macro strategies at Algebris Investments, wrote in a note. He added, however, that "binary events" like this "may not translate into tail risks."

AT&T shares rose 1.3 percent after Raymond James upgraded the telecommunications giant to outperform from market perform, citing an attractive valuation relative to rival Verizon. "We believe that the combination of positive earnings growth and delivering over the course of the year will being investors back to AT&T," analyst Frank Louthan said in a note.

Ulta Beauty surged 8.3 percent on the back of better-than-expected quarterly earnings. The company's same-store sales also rose 9.4 percent, topping an estimate of 7.9 percent.

Tesla shares fell 5 percent after investors were left disappointed with the unveiling of the Model Y, the car company's latest electric vehicle.

—CNBC's Sam Meredith and Spriha Srivastava contributed to this report.