landsberg bennettThe major averages finished at record highs on Thursday, as easing tensions in the Middle East and positive trade headlines lifted risk sentiment. China announced plans for its top trade delegation, which includes Vice Premier Liu He, to travel to Washington next week in order to sign the “phase one” accord. The Dow jumped 211 points, finishing within striking distance of the 29,000 level at 28,956. The S&P 500 rose 0.7%, while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.8%.

All 11 S&P 500 sectors ended the session in positive territory. Technology shares paced the gains, with Apple up 2.1% following reports of increased iPhone shipments to China. Financials also outperformed, with Goldman Sachs climbing 2.0% after being the subject of an analyst upgrade. In other corporate news, Boeing rose 1.5% amid speculation the downed 737-800 in Iran was mistakenly struck by an anti-aircraft missile system. Bed Bath & Beyond slumped 19.2% after posting a surprise loss during the last quarter. Costco added 1.6% after its December comparable-store sales figure topped analyst estimates.

On the data front, initial jobless claims came in at 214,000 in the most recent week, below the prior 222,000 figure. The update comes ahead of tomorrow’s monthly jobs report, which is anticipated to show the U.S. economy added 160,000 jobs in December. Treasuries modestly strengthened with the yield on the 10-year note off one basis point to 1.85%. In commodities, WTI crude dipped 0.1% to $59.56/barrel, giving up all of its gains following the U.S. killing of an Iranian general. COMEX gold retreated 0.5% to $1,552.40/ounce.