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Markets

S&P 500, Dow edge higher on hopes of progress in stimulus talks

  • Gilead up as remdesivir wins approval for treating COVID in US.
  • Intel slumps as quarterly margins fall.
  • American Express drops as profit falls short of estimates.
  • Indexes: Dow up 0.05%, S&P up 0.09%, Nasdaq dips 0.3%.
23 Oct 2020

The S&P 500 and the Dow rose on Friday, with investors expecting progress in talks on the next coronavirus aid bill as the Nov. 3 presidential election drew closer.

The Nasdaq was weighed down by a 10% slump in chipmaker Intel Corp after it reported a drop in margins as consumers bought cheaper laptops and pandemic-stricken businesses and governments clamped down on data center spending.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said late on Thursday that negotiations with lawmakers on a coronavirus relief package, now totaling $1.9 trillion, have entered a new phase.

"The stimulus talks are continuing so the market is happy about that even though we probably won't get anything done before the election," said Thomas Hayes, managing member at Great Hill Capital LLC in New York.

Uncertainty over the timeline of the relief legislature has been weighing on Wall Street's major indexes, which were set to end a choppy week slightly lower.

Meanwhile, a record 47 million Americans cast ballots, eclipsing total early voting from the 2016 election. President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden debated on Thursday for the last time to persuade the few remaining undecided voters 12 days before their contest.

Heading into the debate, Trump trailed former vice president Biden in national polls, but the contest is much tighter in some battleground states where the election will likely be decided.

At 09:50 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 13.81 points or 0.05% to 28,377.47 and the S&P 500 gained 3.23 points or 0.09% to 3,456.72. The Nasdaq Composite lost 32.33 points or 0.28% to 11,473.68.

Third-quarter earnings season chugged along, with 84% of the 126 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far topping quarterly profit estimates, according to Refinitiv data.

Gilead Sciences Inc jumped 4% as its antiviral drug remdesivir became the first and only drug approved for treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States.

The healthcare index added 1%, more than any other S&P sector.

American Express Co dropped 2% as it missed third-quarter profit estimates after its customers spent less during the COVID-19 fueled economic slowdown and it set aside money for potential payment defaults.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 2.3-to-1 on the NYSE and 1.3-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 24 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 42 new highs and seven new lows.