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NAFTA replacement deal lifts US stocks

The Dow Jones index and the S&P 500 have begun the fourth quarter on a positive note, after a last-minute deal to salvage NAFTA as a trilateral pact helped ease trade worries, although major indexes finished off their session highs.

Canada and Mexico accepted more restrictive commerce in the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which will make it harder for global automakers to build cars cheaply in Mexico and aims to bring more jobs to the United States.

Industrial stocks, and more specifically auto and rail-related shares rose. Ford Motor Co gained 0.8 per cent, while General Motors Co advanced 1.6 per cent. Among railroads, Kansas City Southern rose 2.9 per cent.

The industrial sector, sensitive to trade developments in recent months, was up 0.9 per cent, its best day in five weeks.

"It is good news not only for NAFTA and North America in general but a lot of market participants are really viewing this as a positive for future negotiations, especially with China," said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA Research in New York.

"It is short on detail but the market seemingly doesn't care, I am definitely interested in seeing exactly what the details are."

The biggest boost to the industrials, however, was General Electric Co, which rose 7.1 per cent and was set for its best day in three-and-a-half years after replacing Chief Executive John Flannery with board member Larry Culp, who, investors hope can transform the company's portfolio more quickly.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 192.9 points, or 0.73 per cent, to 26,651.21, the S&P 500 gained 10.61 points, or 0.36 per cent, to 2,924.59 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 9.05 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 8,037.30.

October is traditionally one of the tougher months for the S&P, although LPL Financial's senior market strategist Ryan Detrick points out the S&P 500 has averaged a 3.3 per cent return during October in midterm election years.

Aside from industrials, the materials and energy sectors also rose more than one per cent. Energy stocks got a boost as crude oil prices hit their highest level since 2014 on a combination of the new trade agreement and US sanctions on Iran.

Small-cap stocks were under pressure, with the Russell 2000 off 1.39 per cent. Smaller names had been seen as more immune to trade pressures and the index is now off nearly four per cent from its August 31 high.

The defensive real estate and utilities sectors led the decliners.

Still gains, faded late in the session and the Nasdaq was negative, weighed down by declines in Facebook Inc off 1.2 per cent and Intel Corp, down 1.8 per cent.

Tesla Inc shares soared 17.3 per cent as signs it had met targets for quarterly production numbers added to relief at Chief Executive Elon Musk's settling a lawsuit with regulators that could have forced him out.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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