By Avantika Chilkoti and Alexander Osipovich 

U.S. stocks pushed towards record highs as data signaled an improvement in the Chinese economy, adding to optimism that some of the biggest risks to markets are clearing.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 163 points, or 0.6%, to 28298, while the S&P 500 added 0.9%. The Nasdaq Composite rose 1.1%. All three indexes hit intraday records.

Overseas, the Stoxx Europe 600 index gained 1.4% to reach a new high, its first in four years, and the Shanghai Composite Index closed up 0.6%.

Fresh data showed that Chinese economic activity, including factory production and consumer spending, improved in November. The better-than-expected results may help alleviate investors' concerns about growth in the world's second-largest economy.

Markets were buoyed last week as some of the major risks facing global economic growth -- the U.S.-China trade spat, changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement and uncertainty around Brexit -- appeared to ease. On Friday, the U.S. reached a truce with China after securing a pledge from Beijing to boost purchases of agricultural products, bringing a temporary halt to tensions that have rocked markets for most of this year.

"Unless we get any bad data I think the market is going to continue to ride because this was a big, big hurdle cleared for markets with this 'phase one' deal," said Esty Dwek, head of global market strategy at Natixis Investment Managers, adding that earnings expectations for 2020 are now turning sunnier, too.

To finish the trading session at a closing high, the Dow industrials would need to finish above 28164, while the S&P would need to close above 3168.80 and Nasdaq would need to top 8734.88. The S&P and Nasdaq hit their latest closing records Friday, while the Dow's peak came in late November.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.880%, from 1.820% on Friday, as investors sold U.S. government debt in favor of riskier assets. Bond yields rise as prices fall.

U.S. oil futures climbed 0.2%, building on gains from the trade deal last week. Gold futures slipped 0.1%.

In corporate news, shares of Boeing declined 3.7%. The aerospace company is considering either suspending or cutting back production of the 737 MAX, The Wall Street Journal reported. Deepening production cuts would inflate Boeing's costs and trigger charges against its financial results as fixed expenses would be spread among fewer planes.

International Flavors & Fragrances fell 8.3% after DuPont de Nemours reached a deal to combine its nutrition business with IFF in a deal that will give DuPont a $7.3 billion cash payment and about 55.4% of the new company. Shares in DuPont gained 0.1%.

In the U.K., the FTSE 100 index rose 2.3%, its largest one-day percentage increase since December. The gauge is extending gains from last week following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's resounding win in the general election. The result paves the way for the U.K. to leave the European Union next month, clearing some of the political uncertainty that has hung over the country's economy since the 2016 Brexit referendum.

"It takes the risk of a no-deal Brexit immediately off the table and it gives you some certainty, so that's better than where we were," said Thomas Pugh, U.K. economist at Capital Economics.

Write to Avantika Chilkoti at Avantika.Chilkoti@wsj.com and Alexander Osipovich at alexander.osipovich@dowjones.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 16, 2019 13:35 ET (18:35 GMT)

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