Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose for a third straight day amid cautious optimism over the prospects for a trade deal between the U.S. and China.
  • Donald Trump said in a tweet that discussions between the world's two largest economies were "going very well."
  • Union Pacific Corp. (UNP - Get Report)  jumped 8.4% after the railway operator said industry veteran Jim Vena would join the company as chief operating officer later this month.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks closed higher Tuesday, Jan. 8, as U.S. and Chinese officials met for a second day of trade talks in Beijing and Donald Trump said in a tweet that discussions between the world's two largest economies were "going very well."

Comments from both sides suggested cautious optimism that a deal on trade can be struck ahead of a March 1 deadline established by Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping last month at the G-20 summit in Argentina.

The Wall Street Journal reported the U.S. and China made progress on narrowing their differences on trade issues, especially on purchases of U.S. goods and services and opening up China's markets further. They remained, however, far from striking a deal, according to the Journal.

A weaker-than-expect profit forecast from Samsung Electronics Co. (SSNLF)  on Tuesday added further to concerns over the health of the tech sector and capped gains in Asia.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 256 points, or 1.09%, to 23,787, the S&P 500 was up 0.97%, and the Nasdaq gained 1.08%.

Stocks finished higher Monday amid the improved prospects for a trade agreement between the U.S. and China. The Dow gained 98 points, or 0.42%, to 23,531, the S&P 500 rose 0.7%, and the Nasdaq ended the session up 1.26%.

Shares of Samsung Electronics fell 1.7% in Seoul on Tuesday after the world's biggest smartphone maker forecast weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter profit, citing a slowdown in China demand, the same factor that triggered a sales warning last week from rival Apple Inc. (AAPL - Get Report) . Shares of iPhone maker Apple gained 1.9% on Tuesday.

Samsung said profit for the three months ended in December would likely come in at around 10.8 trillion Korean won ($9.67 billion), well shy of market expectations of 13.2 trillion won. Group sales likely will fall 11% to 59 trillion won.

The company will issue its fourth-quarter report later in January.

Union Pacific Corp. (UNP - Get Report)  jumped 8.7% after the railway operator said industry veteran Jim Vena would join the company later this month, less than two years after ending a four-decade career with rival Canadian National Railway Co.

Vena, 60, will join Union Pacific on Jan. 14 as chief operating officer, as well as executive vice president, and will lead the company's "Unified Plan 2020" ambitions, which aim to reduce the company's operating ratio, a key industry measure for profitability, to at least 60%. Despite strong quarterly profit and a significant boost from last year's corporate tax cuts, Union Pacific axed nearly 500 employees and said more headcount reductions could follow as service and congestion issues on its rail network slowed earnings growth.

PG&E Corp. (PCG - Get Report)  fell 7.36% after S&P Global Ratings cut the credit rating of the California utility to junk status as the company grapples with billions in costs associated with last year's wildfires in northern California.

S&P lowered PG&E's credit rating to single-B, two notches below the investment grade threshold, affecting around $18 billion in outstanding bonds.

The stock fell more than 22% on Monday following a report from Reuters that said the company was exploring bankruptcy to cope with massive liabilities from fatal wildfires blamed on its equipment.

Larry Ellison, the founder of software giant Oracle Corp. (ORCL - Get Report) , disclosed in a regulatory filing he has a $1 billion stake in electric vehicle company Tesla Inc. (TSLA - Get Report) .

Tesla rose slightly on Tuesday.

Ellison, the current executive chairman and chief technology officer of Oracle, was added to Tesla's board last month, as was Kathleen Wilson-Thompson, the global head of human resources at Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA - Get Report) .