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story.lead_photo.caption FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2019, file photo specialist Mario Picone, right, works with traders at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Nov 26. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

More encouraging signs that trade talks between the U.S. and China are on track kept investors in a buying mood Tuesday, nudging the major stock indexes to record highs for the second straight day.

Retailers and other companies that rely on consumer spending helped power the modest rally, which adds to the market’s solid start to the week. Only energy, banks and health care sector stocks ended with losses. Bond prices rose, sending yields lower.

Beijing said Tuesday that negotiators for both sides met earlier in the day and agreed to more talks aimed at reaching a deal. The latest development came a day after China announced new guidelines for the protection of patents and copyrights, which has been a key issue in the dispute.

Investors have grown more hopeful over trade negotiations as the world’s two largest economies continue to keep their rhetoric in check. That’s a clear difference from earlier this year, when a sharp comment from either side would seemingly silence any ongoing talks and worsen relations.

The S&P 500 index rose 6.88 points, or 0.2 percent, to 3,140.52. The benchmark index is on a three-day winning streak. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 55.21 points, or 0.2 percent, to 28,121.68.

The Nasdaq composite added 15.44 points, or 0.2 percent, to 8,647.93. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks picked up 2.33 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,624.23.

The major stock indexes are on track for strong gains this year. The S&P 500 is up by more than 25 percent, while the Dow is up by more than 20 percent. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, is now up by more than 30 percent.

Surprisingly good corporate earnings, solid economic data, interest-rate cuts by the Federal Reserve and more optimism on the part of investors about the prospects for a U.S.-China trade deal have helped spur the market higher since late October.

The latest signals indicating both sides are continuing to pursue a deal have been particularly encouraging, as new U.S. tariffs are set to hit Dec. 15 on many Chinese-made items on holiday shopping checklists, such as smartphones and laptops.

Investors hoping Washington and Beijing can agree on terms of a deal that halts their trade dispute, or at least stops it from escalating.

Traders also got a new read on the U.S. consumer Tuesday. The Conference Board said its closely watched consumer confidence index fell slightly for the fourth consecutive month to 125.5. Still, the reading remains elevated ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Investors will have several other economic reports to assess Wednesday, including home sales data, a key measure of inflation and the government’s latest quarterly estimate of economic growth.

Several retailers closed out the latest round of corporate earnings with varied results Tuesday.

Consumer electronics seller Best Buy jumped 9.9 percent after handily beating Wall Street’s profit expectations for the quarter while giving a surprisingly good profit forecast.

Dick’s Sporting Goods surged 18.6 percent after it exceeded analysts’ profit forecasts for the third quarter, while Burlington Stores vaulted 8.5 percent after the discount retailer of coats, jackets and other clothing reported quarterly results that topped analysts’ forecasts. The company also raised its earnings guidance.

Other retailers didn’t have a good day.

Discount retailer Dollar Tree plunged 15.2 percent after its profit fell short of Wall Street expectations. Clothing chain operator Abercrombie & Fitch slid 2.6 percent after the company lowered the top end of its revenue guidance.

Hormel Foods led a broad gain in consumer goods makers. The stock rose 3.6 percent.

Real estate sector stocks also notched gains. American Tower added 2.4 percent.

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