U.S. equities rose for the fourth straight week and for the eighth time in the past nine weeks since the pre-Christmas low. The S&P 500 is now higher on the year by 11.4 percent and sits just 5 percent below its September 20 record high. Rising optimism regarding a trade deal between the U.S. and China was more than enough to offset another round of mediocre economic reports. And Sunday’s news that the White House has extended Friday’s negotiating deadline will only reinforce that sense of optimism. The dollar eased slightly last week, and Treasury yields were little changed, as the two-year note fell three basis points to 2.49 percent and the ten-year yield fell by one to 2.65 percent. The result was a modest steepening of the curve to 15 basis points, keeping it in the 14 to 19 basis point range in which it has traded since the start of the year.