The S&P 500 closed up 0.41 percent at 3,022.49 on Friday, just shy of its record high of 3,025.86 reached on July 22. Earlier on Friday, the benchmark average came within 0.59 points of matching its all-time high print of 3,027.98.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished about 440 points off its record peak.
Technology, industrials and materials led the charge for sector winners as the U.S. and China made progress on trade talks and investors digested corporate earnings.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin "made headway on specific issues" during a phone call with China’s Vice Premier Liu He about the initial phase of a trade agreement between the two countries, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement. The two sides hope to have a deal in writing when Presidents Trump and Xi head to Chile next month for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
The call came after the Chinese slammed Vice President Mike Pence who was highly critical of the government in a speech yesterday. Beijing on Friday pushed back against Pence's recent criticisms of China's human rights abuses, claiming his statements were “full of political prejudice and lies.”
Pence, who called out China for its treatment of protestors and minorities on Thursday, also lambasted American businesses, including the NBA and Nike, for taking a soft stance on the government's behavior.
Intel helped power the Dow Jones industrials after lifting its full-year revenue outlook. While Amazon shares trimmed earlier losses after delivering a sales forecast that fell short of analyst expectations, Verizon bounced between gains and losses.
So far, nearly 80 percent of S&P 500 companies have exceeded profit expectations, and over 60 percent have exceeded revenue goals.
Shares of PG&E plunged after the California utility giant disclosed that one of its power lines malfunctioned, perhaps contributing to ongoing wildfires. More outages may take place over the weekend as severe weather and high winds slam the state. The stock was briefly halted due to volatility and reports that the collapse of the shares and bonds may complicate its bankruptcy, as reported by Dow Jones.
Elsewhere, Boeing shares fell after a report from Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee said a combination of aircraft design flaws, inadequate training and maintenance problems caused Lion Air Flight 610 to crash. The air disaster was one of two that killed more than 300 people and led to the grounding of the 737 MAX, the best-selling plane in Boeing's history.
In commodities, gold and silver traded higher as investors rotated money into the safety of precious metals.
In economic news, consumer sentiment remains strong. The final read for October from University of Michigan came in at 95.5, slightly below September but remaining positive.