December 19, 2019 / 5:26 PM / a month ago

US STOCKS-Wall St hits fresh record as Mnuchin says trade pact to be signed in January

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* Weekly jobless claims fall from over two-year high

* Conagra eyes best day in over 30 years

* Micron up 3.5% after signaling 2020 recovery

* Indexes up: Dow 0.4%, %S&P 0.3%, Nasdaq 0.5% (Adds quote, updates prices)

By Uday Sampath Kumar

Dec 19 (Reuters) - Wall Street hit fresh all-time highs on Thursday as U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said an initial U.S.-China trade deal would be signed in early January, adding to optimism that has been fueled by a breakthrough in talks last week.

In an interview with CNBC on Thursday, Mnuchin said the agreement had already been put down on paper, and that it was completely finished and just undergoing a technical “scrub.”

The S&P 500 hit a sixth straight intraday record high, its longest streak since January 2018, riding a wave that began with hopes of a trade truce between the world’s top two economies and expectations for a smoother Brexit.

The Dow Industrials and the Nasdaq also hit fresh record highs.

Stocks will continue to have an upward bias until the start of 2020, when investors will look for more specific details in the trade agreement, said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston.

“Investors are essentially waiting to see what happens next, moving from a ‘tell-me-something-good’ environment to a ‘show me something good’ environment,” Arone said.

Further cementing optimism on the strength of the U.S. economy, data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits dropping from more than a two-year high last week.

The market also shrugged off U.S. President Donald Trump’s impeachment, as the Republican-controlled Senate is widely expected not to convict him and remove him from office.

At 11:50 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 109.38 points, or 0.39%, at 28,348.66, the S&P 500 was up 9.79 points, or 0.31%, at 3,200.93 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 41.44 points, or 0.47%, at 8,869.18.

Conagra Brands jumped 18.1%, on track for its best day in over 30 years, after the Slim Jim maker beat quarterly sales and profit estimates.

Conagra’s results also lifted other packaged food makers and helped boost the consumer staples sector 0.6%.

Micron Technology Inc gained 3.5% after signaling a recovery in its business in 2020 and saying it had received licenses to supply some products to Huawei.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.43-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.31-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 28 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 88 new highs and 27 new lows.

Reporting by Uday Sampath and Abhishek Manikandan in Bengaluru Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Shinjini Ganguli and Maju Samuel

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