Shares on Wall Street gained on Thursday (US time) in choppy trading, as investors cheered the prospect of more fiscal stimulus to support a pandemic-damaged US economy, with more data pointing to a slowing labour market recovery.
Trading on Wall Street this week has been dictated by a flurry of reports related to progress in the stimulus talks. The CBOE Market Volatility index rose for the eighth time in nine sessions, and was last up 2.8 per cent.
In mid-afternoon trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.6 per cent, the S&P 500 has gained 0.5 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite has added 0.2 per cent. At 5.19am AEDT, futures are pointing to a gain of 7 points, or 0.1 per cent, at the open for the Australian sharemarket.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reported progress in talks with the Trump administration for another round of financial aid and said legislation could be hammered out “pretty soon”.
“The market remains highly sensitive to a fiscal stimulus deal,” said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at US Bank Wealth Management.
“What we’re concerned about is the labour market as we move to the next couple of months. We get the roll-off of the stimulus and the labour market remains suspect. That’s why we’re looking for fiscal stimulus and the market is looking for fiscal stimulus,” he added.
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been negotiating a relief bill near the $US2 trillion ($2.8 trillion) mark, a sum opposed by Senate Republicans who have expressed concern about the federal deficit.
Also on Thursday, data showed the number of Americans filing for state unemployment benefits last week dropped more than expected to 787,000, but remained stubbornly high as support from fiscal stimulus faded.
Energy and financials rose 2.6 per cent and 1.6 per cent, respectively, the steepest percentage gainers among the major S&P sectors.
Investors will monitor the final presidential debate on Thursday night, where Trump will take on Democratic challenger Joe Biden who is ahead in national polls.
Meanwhile, about a fifth of S&P 500 companies have reported third-quarter results of which 84.1 per cent beat earnings estimates, according to IBES Refinitiv data.
Tesla Inc climbed 2.0 per cent after the electric-car maker reported its fifth consecutive quarterly profit on record revenue of $US8.8 billion.
Chipotle Mexican Grill fell 4.7 per cent as it posted a drop in quarterly profit, hurt by higher beef prices, delivery costs and coronavirus-related expenses.
Among blue-chip companies, Coca-Cola gained 1.3 per cent as it beat quarterly results expectations, while chemicals maker Dow fell 0.6 per cent even as it surpassed quarterly profit estimates.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.82-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.72-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 17 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 48 new highs and 27 new lows.
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