Wall St rallies on solid earnings, U.S.-China trade talks

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NEW YORK (Aug 17): U.S. stocks rebounded on Thursday with the Dow posting its biggest percentage gain in over four months, as positive earnings and waning trade jitters buoyed investor confidence.

A broad rally pulled all three major U.S. indexes higher following Wednesday's sell-off.

Walmart Inc shares jumped 9.3 percent after the world's largest retailer topped earnings estimates and posted its best same-store sales growth in a decade.

Easing trade tensions gave relief to tariff-vulnerable industrials, which led the Dow Jones Industrial Average's advance. Boeing and Caterpillar ended the session up 4.3 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.

The S&P 500 industrial sector gained 1.2 percent.

Escalating tariff rhetoric cooled down on news that Beijing will send a delegation to Washington to help resolve the growing trade conflict between the world's two largest economies.

"The market's getting a boost with some prominent companies coming in with some decent earnings, such as Walmart," said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana. "But I think this also shows the schizophrenic nature of the market when short-term market action is pegged so closely to trade wars and tariff talks, especially with China."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 396.32 points, or 1.58 percent, to 25,558.73, the S&P 500 gained 22.32 points, or 0.79 percent, to 2,840.69 and the Nasdaq Composite added 32.41 points, or 0.42 percent, to 7,806.52.

All 11 major sectors of the S&P 500 ended the session higher, with telecom and consumer staples posting the largest percentage gains.

Second-quarter reporting season is winding down. With 463 of S&P 500 companies having posted earnings, 79.3 percent have exceeded analyst estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Cisco Systems Inc stock rose 3.0 percent after beating Wall Street revenue and profit targets.

Cyber security firm Symantec Corp ended a five-day slide, advancing 4.6 percent after hedge fund Starboard Value LP bought a 5.8 percent stake in the company.

Among losers, shares of J.C. Penney Co Inc posted an all-time closing low, plunging 27.0 percent after it posted disappointing results and forecast a worse-than-expected full-year loss.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.97-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.40-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 33 new 52-week highs and four new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 91 new highs and 69 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.39 billion shares, compared with the 6.53 billion-share average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.