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Rising U.S. stocks may be on track for best year since 1997

Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street as investors look to push the major indexes further into record territory.

Consumer and technology stocks led the early gainers. Apple rose 1.1%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 0.2% to 9,039 a day after crossing 9,000 for the first time on Thursday.

The broader S&P 500 stock index gained 0.2% to 3,245 and seemed headed for its biggest annual gain since 2013 at 29%. The benchmark index for most U.S. stocks and stock mutual funds has risen more than 3% so far in December, buoyed by a truce in the U.S.-China trade war and positive year-end signs for the economy.

Some stock market observers say that come the the end of 2019 next Tuesday, the S&P 500 could deliver its biggest annual gain since 1997, when the S&P 500 rose 31.01% in a single year. 

That would be an impressive gain for most investors, although not a record. Data from Standard & Poor's show the index rose 34.1% in 1995 and 31.55% in 1975. Higher still were returns at the end of 1958 (up 38.06%) and 1954 (up 45.02%). There also were four years featuring 30%-plus returns scattered between 1928 and 1945.

Also on Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 69 points, or 0.2%, to 28,690.

Retirement plans not matching market growth 02:56

Global stock markets moved mostly higher amid optimism that U.S.-Chinese trade relations are improving and on early reports that online Christmas shopping was up over last year in the U.S.

European markets rose in trading Friday, while Hong Kong finished with gains and Tokyo declined.

Investors welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump's comment that an interim "Phase 1" trade deal with China was "getting done." Trump said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping would hold a signing ceremony.

Traders still are waiting to see aimed at helping to settle a 17-month-old trade war between the two countries.

Chinese customs data this week showed November soybean imports rose in a possible boost to American farmers. Midwestern farm states were battered by Beijing's earlier suspension of purchases of U.S. soybeans, the biggest Chinese import from the United States, in response to Mr. Trump's tariff hikes on goods from China.

"Broadly risk sentiment is positive," Mizuho Bank said in a report.

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