U.S. stocks closed higher on Thursday as President Donald Trump said a trade deal with China is near and the European Central Bank kept rates unchanged at historic lows.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 220.62 points to 28,131.92 while the S&P 500 rose 26.91 points to 3,168.54 and the Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 63.27 points to 8,717.32.

Volume on the New York Stock Exchange totaled 3.26 billion shares with 1,920 issues advancing, 214 setting new highs, and 1,056 declining, with 21 setting new lows.

Active movers were led by General Electric Co. (GE), Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) and Danaher Corp. (DHR).

Shortly after markets opened, Trump tweeted “Getting very close to a big deal with China. They want it, and so do we!”

 

 

Bloomberg News reported an agreement on an interim phase one trade deal had been reached, but it still required approval from the White House.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier U.S. trade negotiators offered to cancel new tariffs on China goods and cut existing tariffs by up to 50%.

“This has become a buy high, sell higher market, and today’s strength is related to a U.S.-China trade deal that seems to be coming together,” said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

In addition, the European Central Bank voted to keep its rates unchanged in Christine Lagarde’s debut as president of the central bank, one day after the Federal Reserve did likewise.

The main deposit rate remained at the historic low of negative-0.5%, while the marginal lending facility remained at 0.25%.

The bank stated: “The Governing Council expects the key [European Central Bank] interest rates to remain at their present or lower levels until it has seen the inflation outlook robustly converge to a level sufficiently close to, but below, 2% within its projection horizon, and such convergence has been consistently reflected in underlying inflation dynamics.”

At a subsequent press conference Lagarde said her new strategic review at the European Central Bank will include “the enormous challenge of climate change” and the subject of economic inequality.

She said the bank forecasts economic growth in the eurozone of 1.2% in 2019, 1.1% in 2020: 1.1%, 1.4% in each of 2021 and 2022. The bank also forecast inflation rate of 1.2% in 2019, 1.1% in 2020: 1.4% in 2021 and 1.6% in 2022.

Lagarde also said the outlook for a U.S.-China trade deal is hopeful and she hoped the outcome of British elections will remove uncertainties surrounding Brexit.

“We’re in an easy money environment, thanks to Jerome Powell, Christine Lagarde and central bankers around the world,” said Yousef Abbasi, director of U.S. institutional equities and global market strategist at INTL FCStone. “We’re not going to get any hikes in 2020 and at least for the first half of next year, the Fed is going to be buying assets hand over fist.”

Initial jobless claims soared 49,000 in the first week of December to a seasonally adjusted figure of 252,000-- the highest such level in more than two years. Economists expected a figure of 220,000. But the data was likely distorted by the later than usual Thanksgiving holiday whereby workers file for claims late and government offices are sometimes closed.

The Labor Department said U.S. producer prices were unchanged in November, following an 0.4% increase in October. For the 12 months ended November, the producer price index gained 1.1%, equal to October’s increase. Economists had expected the index to rise 0.2% in November and increase 1.2% on a year-on-year basis.

On only its second day of trading, shares of Saudi Aramco reached 38.6 Saudi riyals ($10.29) per share, granting the company an overall market cap of more than $2 trillion.

Overnight in Asia, markets finished mixed. The Hang Seng gained 1.31% while Japan’s Nikkei-225 rose 0.14% and China’s Shanghai Composite lost 0.3%

European markets all closed higher with the FTSE 100 up 0.79% while Germany's DAX rose 0.57% and France's CAC 40 advanced 0.4%.

Crude oil futures gained 1.12% to $59.42 per barrel and Brent crude was up 0.45% at $64.49. Gold futures fell 0.1%.

The euro slipped 0.04% at $1.1126 while the pound sterling fell 0.27% at $1.3160.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury surged 5.98% to 1.897% while yield on the 30-year Treasury gained 4.41% to 2.318%.