Stimulus hopes lift Wall Street as severity of Trump's illness unclear

(Reuters) – Wall Street jumped on Monday as hopes of more fiscal stimulus helped the three main indexes recover from a sharp fall in the previous session, while investors awaited updates on the severity of President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 symptoms.

U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a phone call with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley October 4, 2020, in his conference room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Not shown in the photo also in the room on the call is Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Tia Dufour/The White House/Handout via REUTERS

Doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are treating Trump with a steroid that is normally used only in the most severe cases. Still, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Trump’s medical team will weigh whether he can leave the hospital later in the day.

Ten of the 11 major S&P indexes were up, with energy .SPNY, the worst performing sector this year, rising 1.8%. Materials .SPLRCM and information technology .SPLRCT were also among the biggest gainers on the day.

Shares of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc REGN.O jumped 7.1% after Trump’s physician said he had been treated with an intravenous dose of Regeneron’s dual antibody treatment. The wider healthcare index .SPXHC added 1.8%.

“One of his treatments was an experimental drug from Regeneron (and) that’s showing that this could be a major component to treatments moving forward for people,” said Thomas Hayes, chairman at Great Hill Capital LLC in New York.

Doubts about the scale of further fiscal aid and a slowing economic recovery have weighed on the S&P 500 recently, with the benchmark index in September logging its worst month since the coronavirus-driven crash earlier this year.

But Meadows said on Monday there was still potential to reach an agreement with U.S. lawmakers on more coronavirus relief and that Trump was committed to getting the deal done.

“There’s more optimism around a bill coming to the market sooner rather than later,” said Keith Buchanan, portfolio manager at GLOBALT Investments in Atlanta, Georgia.

“We need another layer of assistance as the economy is still under tremendous stress that has come from the virus.”

After data last week showed an unexpected slowdown in the domestic manufacturing sector in September, figures on Monday showed activity in the broader services industry pulled above levels that prevailed before the COVID-19 pandemic.

At 12:55 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 1.31%, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 1.42% and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 1.86%.

Heavyweight tech-related stocks including Apple Inc AAPL.O, Nvidia Corp NVDA.O, Inc AMZN.O and Microsoft Corp MSFT.O were up between 1.4% and 2.6% after weighing heavily on the Nasdaq .IXIC on Friday.

The S&P banking subindex .SPXBK added 1.8% as the U.S. Treasury 30-year yield hit its highest since late August.

Real estate .SPLRCR – considered a defensive play – was the only S&P sector in the red.

MyoKardia Inc MYOK.O surged 57.8% after Bristol Myers Squibb Co BMY.N said it would buy the company for about $13 billion. Shares of Bristol Myers rose 0.3%.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 2.95-to-1 on the NYSE and 3.19-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 23 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 95 new highs and 11 new lows.

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