More encouraging signs that trade talks between the U.S. and China are on track kept investors in a buying mood Tuesday, nudging the major stock indexes to record highs for the second straight day.

Retailers and other companies that rely on consumer spending helped power the modest rally, which adds to the market’s solid start to the week. Only energy, banks and health care sector stocks ended with losses. Bond prices rose, sending yields lower.

Beijing said Tuesday that negotiators for both sides met earlier in the day and agreed to more talks aimed at reaching a deal. The latest development came a day after China announced new guidelines for the protection of patents and copyrights, which has been a key issue in the dispute.

Investors have grown more hopeful over trade negotiations as the world’s two largest economies continue to keep their rhetoric in check. That’s a clear difference from earlier this year, when a sharp comment from either side would seemingly silence any ongoing talks and worsen relations.

“Generally, you can kind of look at the commentary coming out and I’d say it leans in the direction of progress being made, albeit at a fairly slow pace,” said Jason Pride, chief investment officer of private wealth at Glenmede Trust.

The S&P 500 index rose 6.88 points, or 0.2%, to 3,140.52. The benchmark index is on a three-day winning streak. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 55.21 points, or 0.2%, to 28,121.68.

The Nasdaq composite added 15.44 points, or 0.2%, to 8,647.93. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks picked up 2.33 points, or 0.1%, to 1,624.23.

The major stock indexes are on track for strong gains this year. The S&P 500 is up by more than 25%, while the Dow is up by more than 20%. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, is now up by more than 30%.

Surprisingly good corporate earnings, solid economic data, interest-rate cuts by the Federal Reserve and more optimism on the part of investors about the prospects for a U.S.-China trade deal have helped spur the market higher since late October.

The latest signals indicating that both sides are continuing to pursue a deal have been particularly encouraging, as new U.S. tariffs are set to hit Dec. 15 on many Chinese-made items on holiday shopping checklists, such as smartphones and laptops.

Investors hoping that Washington and Beijing can agree on terms of a deal that halts their trade dispute, or at least stops it from escalating.

Traders also got a new read on the U.S. consumer Tuesday. The Conference Board said its closely watched consumer confidence index fell slightly for the fourth consecutive month to 125.5. Still, the reading remains elevated ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Investors will have several other economic reports to assess on Wednesday, including home sales data, a key measure of inflation and the government’s latest quarterly estimate of economic growth.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.