Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished higher Thursday as investors grew more optimistic about the start of the U.S.-China trade negotiations in Washington.
  • Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY - Get Report) surged after hiring former Target (TGT - Get Report) executive Mark Tritton to lead the struggling home-furnishings retailer. Bed Bath & Beyond is Real Money's Stock of the Day.
  • United States Steel (X - Get Report) rose after posting stronger-than-expected preliminary guidance for its third-quarter earnings.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks finished higher Thursday as investors grew more optimistic about the start of the U.S.-China trade negotiations in Washington.

President Donald Trump told reporters outside the White House Thursday afternoon that the trade talks are going "very well." Earlier in the day, Trump said he would be meeting Friday with China's vice premier, who is leading the Chinese delegation.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which rose as much as 257 points, finished up 151 points, or 0.57%, to 26,497. The S&P 500 advanced 0.64% and the Nasdaq climbed 0.60%.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report) , Caterpillar (CAT - Get Report) , Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA - Get Report) and Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report) were among the Dow's top gainers.

Thursday's talks, which are scheduled to include China's Vice Premier Liu Hie, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, are the first high-level meetings between the two sides since the G-20 summit in late June.

"Big day of negotiations with China," Trump said via Twitter. "They want to make a deal, but do I? I meet with the Vice Premier tomorrow at The White House."

Big day of negotiations with China. They want to make a deal, but do I? I meet with the Vice Premier tomorrow at The White House.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2019

Trump has maintained that China "wants a deal more than we do." However, with impeachment proceedings accelerating in the United States, and allies stepping up pressure over Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, China may not be as inclined to offer concessions as it was earlier this year.

China's state news agency Xinhua on Thursday quoted Liu as saying that China is willing to reach agreement with the U.S. on matters of importance to both sides, to avoid further tariff escalations, according to the South China Morning Post.

Liu made the comments in Washington after meeting US-China Business Council President Craig Allen, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and US Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice-President Myron Brilliant, the South China Post said.

Jim Cramer, TheStreet.com founder, said on CNBC that markets are "hostage to events that are not only totally out of our hands, but I think totally out of the president's hands."

"I am describing an unfathomable market," Cramer said, "where if you have conviction, you are out of your mind."

The talks in Washington likely could be the last chance for significant progress to be made on a trade pact between the world's two biggest economies prior to next year's presidential elections.

Tariff threats loom if the talks break down with increased levies on $250 billion of China-made goods set to kick in next week, and an additional tariff of 15% on $300 billion worth of goods, which effectively would mean all China imports are subject to extra costs, set for mid-December.

The U.S. consumer price index was flat in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said, compared with Wall Street's expectation of a 0.1% increase. The increase in the cost of living over the past 12 months was unchanged at 1.7%.

"Overall, these data offer nothing to (Federal Reserve) hawks seeking to prevent another rate cut at the end of this month, following the grim ISM surveys and other soft data," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist with Pantheon Macroeconomics. "A fourth straight 0.3% core CPI would have bolstered their case but we now expect them to fold, with the Fed easing by 25 basis points.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 210,000 for the week ended Oct. 5, the Labor Department said. Data for the prior week was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported. Wall Street had called for claims unchanged at 219,000 in the latest week.

"The crucial U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) and core CPI both missed the consensus estimates, confirming the weakening inflationary pressures, but the weekly number of new jobless claims was lower-than-expected," said Gorilla Trades strategist Ken Berman. "The Brexit saga also provided a positive surprise, as British and Irish leaders told the press that they still see a path towards a deal, sending British and European assets soaring."

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY - Get Report) surged 21.5% to $12.08 after it hired former Target (TGT - Get Report) and Nordstrom (JWN - Get Report) executive Mark Tritton to lead the struggling home-furnishings retailer. Bed Bath & Beyond is Real Money's Stock of the Day.

Delta Airlines (DAL - Get Report) fell 1.5% to $53.11 after posting stronger-than-expected third quarter earnings , but missing Wall Street's revenue expectations.

United States Steel (X - Get Report) dipped slightly to $10.14 after posting preliminary guidance for third-quarter earnings that pointed to stronger-than-expected profit for the steelmaker.

Caterpillar, Goldman Sachs, 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.