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Stocks - S&P Ekes out Gain as Apple's Swing Lower Offsets Optimism Over Trade

The S&P 500 closed just above breakeven on Wednesday. - The S&P 500 eked out a win on Wednesday as optimism over U.S.-China trade helped offset a retreat in tech.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose about 0.11%. The S&P 500 rose 0.04%, while the Nasdaq Composite lost about 0.23%.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) unveiled its product line of shiny new products, including a trio of new iPhones, to much fanfare. But that did little to prevent the tech giant's shares closing 1% lower.

Apple’s new iPhone product line includes: the iPhone XR starting at $749, iPhone Xs starting at $999 and iPhone Xs Max starting at $1,099. The cheaper iPhone XR was priced lower than the $849 analysts had expected.

The iPhone XR will be shipped later than the traditional two weeks after the event, leading some to question whether the delay was a consequence of production issues or a deliberate decision to help support sales of its pricier iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.

While Apple's mammoth grip over tech ensured the sector closed in the red, Netflix's (NASDAQ:NFLX) 4% surge limited downside momentum. Apple's failure to announce a streaming or original content service eased investor worries that the iPhone maker was set to encroach on Netflix's turf.

The broader averages were also helped by renewed hopes for an end to the U.S.-China trade war on a report the countries would restart trade negotiations.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sent a letter to Chinese officials to propose trade talks in the next few weeks, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The talks would take place before the Trump administration implements additional tariffs on Chinese imports, according to the report.

Progress on the U.S.-China trade front represents a remarkable turn of events as both countries have recently vowed to slap additional tariffs on each other.

China told the World Trade Organization (WTO) Tuesday it wanted to impose $7 billion a year in sanctions on the United States. President Donald Trump said last week he was ready to impose tariffs on an additional $267 billion of Chinese imports.

Industrial heavyweights such as Boeing (NYSE:BA) and Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), both of which have huge exposure to China, closed higher for the day.

The Federal Reserve's Beige Book, released Wednesday, showed that uncertainty over trade continued to spook domestic businesses as they cooled plans to ramp up capital spending.

"Businesses generally remained optimistic about the near-term outlook, though most Districts noted concern and uncertainty about trade tensions -- particularly though not only among manufacturers. A number of Districts noted that such concerns had prompted some businesses to scale back or postpone capital investment," according to the book.

Energy, meanwhile, also pushed the broader averages higher as oil prices rose, following a large draw in U.S. crude supplies and a drop in output.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures for October delivery rose 1.6% to settle at $70.37 a barrel.

In corporate news, Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU) fell 4.3% as concerns over memory demand and surplus inventory prompted Goldman Sachs to downgrade its rating on the chipmaker's stock to neutral from buy.

Top S&P 500 Gainers and Losers Today:

Discovery (NASDAQ:DISCA), Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCK) and Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) were among the top S&P 500 gainers for the session.

Micron (NASDAQ:MU), SunTrust Banks (NYSE:STI) and Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) were among the worst S&P 500 performers of the session.

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