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S&P, Nasdaq set records on trade hopes

Arjun Panchadar

Apple and semiconductor stocks have powered the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes to record highs after a report signalled that the United States and China were nearing a trade truce, with sentiment also buoyed by a raft of mega deals.

Trade-sensitive Intel Corp and Applied Materials helped lift the Philadelphia Semiconductor index 2.1 per cent as a Chinese state-backed tabloid said on Monday Beijing and Washington were "very close" to an initial pact.

That added to optimism from comments over the weekend by a top US official that an agreement was still possible by the end of the year, dispelling fears that the negotiations could carry on into 2020.

"The mood is pretty positive at this point," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St Petersburg, Florida.

"You got mergers today, which are typically positive for the market, and I think you still have some optimism that there's going to be a trade deal."

Trade deal hopes and robust third-quarter corporate earnings have helped Wall Street's main indexes hit record highs this month.

Gains on Monday were broad-based, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq firming over 1 per cent and 10 of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors higher. Apple rose 1.3 per cent and was the biggest boost to all the three main indexes.

At 10.34am local time on Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 149.97 points, or 0.54 per cent, at 28,025.59 while the S&P 500 was up 20.90 points, or 0.67 per cent, at 3,131.19. The Nasdaq Composite was up 98.30 points at 8,618.19.

In M&As, Tiffany & Co jumped 6.2 per cent after the luxury jeweller agreed to a sweetened $US16.2 billion ($A23.9 billion) deal with France's LVMH.

US discount brokerage TD Ameritrade Holding was up 6 per cent after larger rival Charles Schwab said it would buy the company in an all-stock deal valued at about $US26 billion. Schwab was up about 1.5 per cent.

EBay gained 1.3 per cent after the e-commerce major said it would sell ticketing unit StubHub to ticket reseller Viagogo for $US4.05 billion in cash.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 3.72-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 3.69-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 29 new 52-week highs and one new low while the Nasdaq recorded 70 new highs and 34 new lows.