S&P, Nasdaq close higher as stimulus talks in spotlight

In this news, we discuss the S&P, Nasdaq close higher as stimulus talks in spotlight.

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed slightly higher on Friday in volatile trading, with investors closely monitoring negotiations on a U.S. stimulus package that would ease the economic shock caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones finished lower on the day, moving within tight ranges.

Uncertainty over the timing of relief legislation has weighed on major Wall Street indices in recent sessions, with all three indices posting lows for the week.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was still possible to get another round of COVID-19 aid ahead of the November 3 election, but it was up to the president Donald Trump to take action, including speaking to reluctant Senate Republicans, if he wanted to.

Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin countered that Pelosi had to compromise to get an aid package, saying important differences remained between the Republican administration and the Democrats.

Still, the market believes a stimulus deal is going to be struck: the only question would be size and timing, analysts said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 28.09 points lower, or 0.1%, at 28,335.57, the S&P 500 gained 11.9 points, or 0.34%, at 3,465.39 and the Nasdaq Composite a added 42.28 points, or 0.37%, to 11,548.28. The communications services sector grew 1.1%, the largest gain among the major S&P sectors.

“This market has been driven by the stimulus for several weeks – today is further proof of that,” said Lindsey Bell, chief investment strategist at Ally Invest in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“The market thinks we’re getting a stimulus. But he wants to know when it’s going to pass because it will take time for the money to flow, ”she added.

Meanwhile, a record 50 million Americans voted, eclipsing the total early votes from the 2016 election.

Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden debated last Thursday to persuade the few undecided voters remaining 11 days before their contest, but while the debate was more moderate and substantial, it hardly budged the needle.

Trump has always followed former Vice President Biden in national polls after the debate, although the competition is much tighter in some battlefield states where the election will likely be decided.

A sharp 10% drop from chipmaker Intel Corp after announcing lower margins weighed on the market earlier. Intel’s results came under pressure as consumers bought cheaper laptops and pandemic-stricken businesses and governments clamped down on data center spending.

The third-quarter earnings season, meanwhile, has progressed, with about 84% of the 135 S&P 500 companies reporting so far beating quarterly earnings estimates, according to data from Refinitiv.

Next week the focus will be on Big Results Tech Apple Inc companies, Facebook Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Google-parent Alphabet.

Gilead Sciences Inc rose 0.2% as its antiviral drug remdesivir became the first and only drug approved for the treatment of hospital patients with COVID-19 in the United States.

American Express Co fell 3.6% as it missed third-quarter profit estimates after customers spent less during COVID-19 economic downturn and put money aside for potential defaults.

For the week, the Dow Jones was down 0.9%, the S&P 500 was down 0.5% and the Nasdaq was down 1.1%.

Volume on the U.S. exchanges was 7.79 billion shares, compared to nearly 9 billion on average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

Report by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfus; Edited by Cynthia Osterman

Original © Thomson Reuters

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