Wall Street gains despite chaotic Trump and Biden debate

Wall Street’s main stock indexes were trading higher on Wednesday as hopes for a long-anticipated new round of federal virus relief aid eclipsed concerns over a chaotic presidential debate between United States President Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent Joe Biden.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.58 percent at 27,886.94 around noon on Wall Street.

The S&P 500 – a gauge for the health of US retirement and college savings reports – was up 1.3 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index was 1.49 percent to the plus side.

Investors have myriad concerns clouding the outlook including the prospect of another surge in COVID-19 infections, the looming possibility of a contested outcome to the US presidential election on November 3, and stalled negotiations in Congress over a fresh round of stimulus to blunt the continuing fallout of coronavirus lockdowns.

On Wednesday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is running point for the White House on virus relief aid negotiations with Democrats in Congress, told a CNBC investor conference that he is “hopeful” that new stimulus deal can be struck and that the two sides should know by Thursday whether they can find common ground.

The Democrats in the House of Representatives led by Nancy Pelosi unveiled a $2.2 trillion fiscal stimulus bill, which includes a second round of $1,200 stimulus cheques for the Americans.

That upbeat assessment from Mnuchin helped lift stocks. So did a report from ADP showing that private employers in the US created a better-than-expected 749,000 jobs in September. The report whets appetites for the closely watched monthly employment report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics that will drop on Friday.

The pain in the US labour market has been particularly bad for the restaurant, hospitality and travel industries.

At midnight, 40,000 US airline workers will be laid off from an industry decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the latest round of layoff news, Disney on Tuesday announced 28,000 job cuts, affecting mostly part-time workers, but executives and salary workers as well.

But job losses were hardly mentioned at Tuesday night’s presidential debate as Trump and Biden squared off hurling personal attacks and insults back and forth.

Decorum and decency were in short supply. What played out more like a duel than a debate comes as the US is beset by growing civil unrest, political exhaustion, economic woes, and a pandemic.

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in their first 2020 presidential campaign debate held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, US [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

President Trump declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, underscoring again his concerns that mail-in ballots would lead to election fraud.

Biden was critical of Trump’s policies on just about everything from his handling of the coronavirus crisis to his plan to fill the Supreme Court seat.

The first of the three presidential debates came at a volatile time for Wall Street. The S&P 500 fell about 10 percent from record highs this month.

The tech stocks that ruled Wall Street in the early days of the pandemic have turned tepid.

On Wednesday, shares of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, were up a little more than 1 percent around noon in New York after Reuters news agency, citing sources, reported that China is preparing to launch an antitrust probe into Google.

Some positive news on the coronavirus treatment and vaccine fronts from drugmakers Regeneron, and Moderna helped lift investor sentiment on Wall Street.

Source: Thanks AlJazeera.com