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US STOCKS-Trade optimism pushes Wall Street higher

By Akanksha Rana

(For a live blog on the U.S. stock market, click or type LIVE/ in a news window)

* Smucker falls as forecast cut, earnings disappoint

* J&J jumps after opioid lawsuit decision

* Indexes up: Dow 0.43%, S&P 500 0.51%, Nasdaq 0.63% (Updates to open)

By Akanksha Rana

Aug 27 (Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes rose for the second straight session on Tuesday, supported by broad-based gains as investors pinned their hopes on a resolution to the protracted U.S.-China trade dispute despite mixed signals from both sides.

U.S. stocks closed up more than 1% on Monday after U.S. President Donald Trump sought to ease tensions by predicting another round of talks with Beijing. China's foreign ministry, however, reiterated on Tuesday that it had not received any recent telephone call from the United States on trade.

Global stock markets also took comfort from data showing China's industrial companies returned to profit in July and a rally in European stocks.

An escalation in the trade tensions between Washington and Beijing has hit financial markets in the recent days after both sides threatened to slap tariffs on each other's goods worth billions of dollars.

"It's (sentiment) still largely about trade and prospects of a deal with China and the markets are driven more by hope than anything else at this point," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Technology stocks, among those most vulnerable to the trade war, gained 0.6%, while a rise in Johnson & Johnson pushed the healthcare sector 0.8% higher.

Shares in the drugmaker rose 3% after an Oklahoma judge said J&J must pay $572.1 million for its part in fueling the U.S. opioid epidemic, a sum that was substantially less than what investors had expected.

Wall Street has been fretting over a deepening trade row hurting corporate profits and global growth, and the lack of clarity on the pace of U.S. interest rate cuts have only added to the woes.

With the next Federal Reserve meeting scheduled next month, investors are gauging the strength of the U.S. economy for clues on where rates are headed.

Further buoying sentiment was data from the Commerce Department which showed the consumer confidence index rising 135.1 points, beating growth estimates in the month of August.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 111.21 points, or 0.43%, to 26,010.04, the S&P 500 gained 14.73 points, or 0.51%, to 2,893.11 and the Nasdaq Composite added 49.46 points, or 0.63%, to 7,903.20.

Among other stocks, Philip Morris International Inc fell 5.7%, to the bottom of the S&P 500, after the tobacco maker said it was in talks with peer Altria Group Inc to combine in an all-stock merger of equals. Altria's shares jumped 8.6%.

Shares in J. M. Smucker Co slid 9.1% after the packaged food maker cut its full-year earnings forecast and missed estimates for quarterly profit and sales.

Papa John's International Inc's shares gained 6.2% after the pizza chain named Arby's Restaurant Group Inc President Rob Lynch as its chief executive officer.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 2.66-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.79-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 22 new 52-week highs and five new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 31 new highs and 50 new lows. (Reporting by Akanksha Rana and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)