Stocks Up as Trade Worries Ease

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks turned higher Wednesday after fears about an economy-rattling trade war stepped down a notch.

The Trump administration indicated it's shifting away from a plan to impose limits on Chinese investment in U.S. technology companies and high-tech exports to China. Instead, the administration is calling on Congress to enhance an existing review process.

Investors took it as a sign of a softer stance after escalating rounds of tough talk between the world's two largest economies, and U.S. stock indexes rose at the opening bell. Earlier, the futures market had indicated U.S. stocks were set for a weak open. Much of the gains came from stocks in the energy sector, which jumped with the price of oil.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was up 15 points, or 0.6 percent, at 2,739, as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. Following Tuesday's modest gain, the index has clawed back more than half of Monday's 1.4 percent drop.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 157, or 0.6 percent, to 24,440, and the Nasdaq composite rose 38, or 0.5 percent, to 7,598. Roughly three stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

ENERGIZED STOCKS: The price of crude jumped on reports that the Trump administration is pushing other countries to stop importing oil from Iran. That helped drive energy stocks in the S&P 500 up 1.9 percent for the biggest gain among the 11 sectors that make up the index.

Hess jumped 4.4 percent to $66.60 for the largest gain in the S&P 500. Helmerich & Payne, an oil drilling company, jumped 3 percent to $64.90.

MARKETS ABROAD: European stocks erased earlier losses to climb. France's CAC 40 jumped 1.2 percent, Germany's DAX rose 0.3 percent and the FTSE 100 in London gained 1 percent.

Asian markets, which closed earlier, mostly fell. Japan's Nikkei 225 lost 0.3 percent, and South Korea's Kospi sank 0.4 percent.

CHINESE BEARS: The tough talk on trade between the world's two largest economies has hit Chinese stocks particularly hard, and China's Shanghai Composite index continued to plummet with a 1 .1 percent drop on Wednesday. It's down more than 20 percent from its late January level.

"To a large extent, the Chinese market is one driven by speculation," said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG in Singapore. "With sentiment rolling over itself of late, particularly over the escalating trade tensions that seem to have no end, it should be of little surprise to find the market crumbling."

CURRENCIES: The dollar edged up to 110.38 Japanese yen from 110.13 yen late Tuesday. The euro fell to $1.611 from $1.1650, and the British pound dipped to $1.3160 from $1.3232.

YIELDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped to 2.85 percent from 2.88 percent late Tuesday. The two-year yield fell to 2.51 percent from 2.53 percent, and the 30-year sank to 2.98 percent from 3.02 percent.

COMMODITEIS: Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.29, or 1.8 percent, to $71.82. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 86 cents to $77.00 per barrel.

Gold slipped $3.20 to $1,256.70 per ounce.