Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

IBM (IBM) - Get Report , Caterpillar (CAT) - Get Report , and 3M (MMM) - Get Report  led the Dow's advance. Bank stocks like JPMorgan Chase (JPM) - Get Report and Goldman Sachs (GS) - Get Report also climbed. 

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended sharply higher Thursday after officials from Washington and Beijing said they would resume trade talks in October.
  • Palo Alto Networks (PANW) - Get Report  soared after beating Wall Street's fourth-quarter earnings expectations. Palo Alto Networks is Real Money's Stock of the Day.
  • Slack Technologies (WORK) - Get Report   fell after pointing to slower near-term sales growth even as it topped Wall Street forecasts in it first quarterly earnings as a public company.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks finished sharply higher Thursday after officials from Washington and Beijing said they would resume trade talks in October.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 373 points, or 1.41%, to 26,728, the S&P 500 climbed 1.30%, and the Nasdaq advanced 1.75%.

China's Commerce Ministry said the two sides will hold high-level negotiations in Washington early next month, while the U.S. side confirmed a sit-down "in the coming weeks."

Preliminary talks are expected to be in mid-September, the Commerce Ministry said following a phone call Wednesday with China's Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

However, various news reports indicated some uncertainty around the planned talks since they would take place after a new round of American tariffs go into effect. In addition, some White House officials are doubtful that China will commit to the kind of reforms the U.S. is seeking.

"Escalating U.S.-China trade tensions have been the biggest equity headwind for months, so a relief rally on news high-level trade talks are planned for early October is no surprise," said Alec Young, managing director of global markets research at FTSE Russell. "Even though expectations for a robust trade deal are low, with global growth continuing to deteriorate as trade tensions mount, investors are relieved just to see talks are back on. There's so much at stake that even incremental steps in the right direction are welcomed."

The bottom line, Young said, "is that stocks need earnings growth to move forward, and you can't get that without progress on US-China trade."

Palo Alto Networks 

(PANW) - Get Report

 rose 5.8% to $212.05 after

the cybersecurity company

 beat Wall Street's fourth-quarter earnings expectations and forecast a robust near-term outlook for its key product suite. Palo Alto Networks is Real Money's

Stock of the Day

.

Slack Technologies (WORK) - Get Report  fell 3.4% to $30.01 after the business messaging company pointed to slower near-term sales growth even as it topped Wall Street forecasts in it first quarterly earnings as a public company.

Shares of Signet Jewelers (SIG) - Get Report  surged 26.7% to $13.95 after the Hamilton, Bermuda-based  jewelry retailer beat Wall Street's second-quarter earnings and sales forecasts.

Ciena (CIEN) - Get Report shares fell 3.8% to $39.62 even after the telecommunications company reported adjusted fiscal third-quarter earnings and revenue that beat analysts' forecasts.

Shares of data storage company Cloudera (CLDR) - Get Report rose 14.2% to $8.23 after the company posted a narrower-than-expected fiscal second-quarter loss and stronger revenue.

Meanwhile, U.S. jobs growth was faster than expected in August, according to a report from payroll firm Automatic Data Processing. Private employers added 195,000 jobs during the month, exceeding economists' average forecast for a gain of 150,000. The report is considered a precursor to Friday's official U.S. jobs report for August.

"This morning's ADP read really blew the doors off of estimates and will likely set expectations high for tomorrow's read from the government, especially on the wage front," said Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E*Trade. "With the CME Fed Watch Tool pricing in a rate cut at almost 100%, there is little-to-no chance this will derail the Fed's trajectory, especially as their sites are trained squarely on inflation, which has been persistently below where the Fed wants it to be."

Loewengart added that "what investors really need to take away here is that this is yet another loud and clear sign that the economy continues to move along nicely despite pockets of weakness creeping up, and trade tensions mounting."

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its non-manufacturing activity index rose to 56.4 from 53.7 in July.  This was the weakest level since August 2016. Analysts had called for a reading of 54.0 A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector.

In energy news, the Energy Information Administration said U.S. commercial crude oil inventories decreased by 4.8 million barrels from the previous week.

Brent crude contracts were up 9 cents to $60.79 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate contracts, which are more tightly linked to U.S. gas prices, were 7 cents lower at $56.19 a barrel.

Caterpillar, Goldman Sachs, Palo Alto Networks, and JPMorgan Chase are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells these stocks? Learn more now.