Wall Street returned to its winning ways this week, powering through trade-related headlines and Hurricane Florence, one of the strongest storms to hit the Carolinas in decades. The S&P 500 advanced 1.2%, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 1.4%, and the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.9%.
Hurricane Florence was largely the talk of the week, forcing residents near the Carolina coast to either pack their bags or hunker down. The storm weakened to a Category 1 from a Category 4 before it made landfall on Friday though, which helped the market keep a positive bias. WTI crude futures were once up nearly 4.0% on the week, but gave the majority of that back as the storm weakened.
Meanwhile, on the trade front, the White House confirmed reports that it has proposed a new round of trade talks with China -- a proposition that was welcomed by Beijing. However, President Trump muddied the waters a bit with a tweet on Thursday, saying the U.S. isn't under pressure to make a deal with China; rather, China is under pressure to make a deal with the United States.
China's major stock index, the Shanghai Composite, fell 0.8% this week, touching its lowest level since January 2016.
Separately, President Trump is reportedly considering a second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ahead of the November midterm elections. The two leaders held a historic summit in June, but relations have cooled since, due to North Korea's unsatisfactory progress towards denuclearization.
In U.S. corporate news, Apple (AAPL) unveiled a trio of new iPhones -- iPhone Xs ($999), iPhone Xs Max ($1099), and iPhone Xr ($749) -- at its annual product event on Wednesday, extending last year's high-end iPhone X line, which was created in celebration of the iPhone's 10th anniversary. Apple shares added 1.2% on the week.
The top-weighted technology sector was among the top-performing groups this week, rebounding from last week's disappointing performance, with a gain of 1.8%. In total, ten of eleven groups finished in positive territory. Cyclical sectors generally outperformed, although the heavily-weighted financial space did not, finishing lower by 0.4%.
On the data front, investors received some influential inflation data this week, including the core Producer Price Index for August and the core Consumer Price Index for August. The core PPI declined 0.1%, while the Briefing.com consensus expected an increase of 0.2%, and the core CPI showed a less-than-expected increase of 0.1% (Briefing.com consensus +0.2%).
Those readings helped to ease fears that the Fed might have to be more aggressive in raising rates in order to keep the economy from overheating.
In monetary policy, a trio of central banks released their latest policy decisions this week, including the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, and the Central Bank of Turkey. Both the ECB and the Bank of England kept interest rates unchanged, as expected, but Turkey's central bank increased its benchmark rate to 24.00% from 17.75%, attempting to stabilize the beleaguered Turkish lira.
The Fed is expected to raise rates by 25 basis points at its September 25-26 policy meeting, with the market placing the chances of a rate hike at 100%.