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US-China Talks Help Boost Retail and Apparel Stocks

The hint of some good news helped lift retail and apparel stocks on Monday after a December swoon had brought them down.

The resumption of trade talks between the U.S. and China in Beijing in an attempt to end the trade war between the world’s two largest economies, along with Friday’s robust jobs numbers, is giving stocks a boost.

Retail industry employment in December increased by 15,200 jobs seasonally adjusted from November and 37,600 jobs unadjusted year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation. The retail gains came as the U.S. added 312,000 jobs overall, the Labor Department said.

U.S. stocks advanced on the day as the Trump administration said it was “reasonable” to say a trade deal with China was in reach as Chinese President Xi Jinping sent one of his top aides to the talks. The two leaders have embarked on a trade war that has seen them impose tariffs on a combined $360 billion worth of tariffs on imports, causing turmoil for financial markets and concern in sourcing circles.

“There’s a very good chance that we’ll get a reasonable settlement that China can live with, that we can live with, and that addresses all the key issues,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC.

The S&P 500 rose 0.7 percent at the end of trading on Monday, as the Dow increased 0.42 percent and the Nasdaq climbed 1.26 percent. This followed one of the worst ever one-month performances in the market in December.

Among major retailers, Target stock jumped 4.89 percent to close at $69.68, Walmart shares were up 1.18 percent to finish at $94.54, Macy’s stock rose 1.8 percent to reach $29.91 and Amazon shares climbed 3.44 percent to end the day at $1,629.51.

Other notable retail gainers were Ascena Retail, up 13.5 percent to $3.11; Stein Mart, gaining 4.8 percent to $1.31; Abercrombie & Fitch, ahead 4.76 percent to $20.92; Gap Inc., climbing 4.61 percent to $26.57; Express, up 3.31 percent to $5.61; Ross Stores, gaining 4.21 percent to $88.93, and J. Jill, ahead 4.41 percent to $5.44.

Apparel stocks, which had also gone through a downward tilt, also enjoyed the upswing.

VF Corp. shares were up 1.88 percent to close at $72.98, PVH Corp. stock jumped 5 percent to end the day at $98.56 and Ralph Lauren Corp. saw shares gain 1.82 percent to close at $106.7. In addition, Michael Kors Holdings stock was up 1.99 percent to $37.92, G-III Apparel Group shares climbed 4.7 percent to close at $30.31 and Hanesbrands stock rose 3.18 percent to finish at $13.31.