Wall Street rises as hopes rise for U.S. fiscal stimulus

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Shares on Wall Street gained on Thursday in choppy trading, as investors cheered the prospect of more fiscal stimulus to support a pandemic-damaged U.S. economy, with more data pointing to a slowing labor market recovery.

FILE PHOTO: The front facade of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in New York City, New York, U.S., June 26, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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 .VIX rose for the eighth time in nine sessions, and was last up 2.8%.

U.S. 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 U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

“What we’re concerned about is the labor market as we move to the next couple of months. We get the roll-off of the stimulus and the labor 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 $2 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.

At 2:02 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 164.06 points, or 0.58%, to 28,374.88, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 18.39 points, or 0.54%, to 3,453.95 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 26.11 points, or 0.23%, to 11,510.81.

Energy .SPNY and financials .SPSY rose 2.6% and 1.6%, 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% beat earnings estimates, according to IBES Refinitiv data.

Tesla Inc TSLA.O climbed 2.0% after the electric-car maker reported its fifth consecutive quarterly profit on record revenue of $8.8 billion.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc CMG.N fell 4.7% 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 Co KO.N gained 1.3% as it beat quarterly results expectations, while chemicals maker Dow Inc DOW.N fell 0.6% 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 favored 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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