US STOCKS-Wall St edges higher on Amazon, Walmart gains; trade talks in focus
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* Walmart rises as holiday qtr sales top estimates
* U.S.-China trade talks resume in Washington
* Trade-sensitive industrials flat
* JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs biggest losers on the Dow
* Indexes up: Dow 0.11 pct, S&P 0.22 pct, Nasdaq 0.32 pct (Updates to early afternoon, adds comments)
By Shreyashi Sanyal
Feb 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks inched higher on Tuesday, ledby Amazon and upbeat earnings from Walmart, while investorsfocused on the latest round of trade talks between the UnitedStates and China.
Hopes that the two countries will hammer out a deal to endtheir protracted trade war have sparked a rally in stocks thisyear, keeping the main stock indexes at over two-month highs.
Shares of Amazon.com IncAMZN.O gained 1.4 percent,providing the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.
WalmartWMT.N jumped 3.9 percent after the world's largestretailer reported an estimate-beating jump in holiday quartercomparable sales, helped by consumer spending in key categorieslike groceries and increased e-commerce purchases. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N20E0A2
The company's results helped lift the mood in the sector,especially after a Commerce Department report showed last weekthat U.S. retail sales recorded their biggest drop in more thannine years for December, stoking fears of an economic slowdown. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2081MC
Target CorpTGT.N rose 1.7 percent and Costco WholesaleCorp COST.O 1.2 percent.
"We got really good earnings from Walmart, which was asurprise to investors after the weak retail sales numbers lastweek," said Ryan Nauman, market strategist at Informa FinancialIntelligence in Zephyr Cove, Nevada.
"But investors still seem to be sitting on their hands untilwe have more information on the trade front."
The talks in Washington follow a round of negotiations thatended in Beijing last week without a deal but which officialssaid had generated progress on contentious issues between theworld's two largest economies. Higher-level talks will start onThursday. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N20E02U
Trade-exposed industrial sector .SPLRCI was littlechanged, with bellwether Boeing CoBA.N down 0.4 percent.
The consumer staples sector .SPLRCS rose 0.76 percent, themost among the 11 major S&P sectors, helped by Walmart.
JPMorgan Chase & CoJPM.N fell 1 percent and Goldman SachsGroup IncGS.N dropped 0.6 percent, capping gains on the financial index .SPSY , which was flat.
After the Federal Reserve announced its wait-and-seeapproach on interest rates this year, investors will look formore clues on monetary policy when the central bank releases theminutes from its January meeting on Wednesday.
At 12:42 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI wasup 29.63 points, or 0.11 percent, at 25,912.88, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 6.18 points, or 0.22 percent, at 2,781.78 and theNasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 23.57 points, or 0.32 percent,at 7,495.98.
Mattel Inc shares MAT.O dropped 2.8 percent, after thecompany issued a disappointing 2019 sales forecast and saiddemand for its iconic Barbie doll was slowing. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N20A4QT
Freeport-McMoRanFCX.N jumped 7.7 percent, the most on theS&P, after Citi Research upgraded the shares of the copperminer, seeing an upside potential for the red metal and addedthat weakness in China seemed to be turning. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N20E4CB
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.20-to-1 ratioon the NYSE and by a 1.68-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 35 new 52-week highs and no new lows,while the Nasdaq recorded 83 new highs and 18 new lows. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru;Editing by Anil D'Silva) ((Shreyashi.Sanyal@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 8780 ;Reuters Messaging:Shreyashi.Sanyal.firstname.lastname@example.org))
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of NASDAQ, Inc.