US equities start off flat amid elusive stimulus

Democrats and Republicans in Washington are in the final two weeks of negotiations before the November 3 presidential election on new spending measures to boost the US economy after the coronavirus pandemic caused grievous damage earlier in the year.
Democrats and Republicans in Washington are in the final two weeks of negotiations before the November 3 presidential election on new spending measures to boost the US economy after the coronavirus pandemic caused grievous damage earlier in the year.
Bloomberg Creative

Wall Street kicked off the final trading session of the week Friday largely flat amid the continued absence of a stimulus deal from Washington though news of a Covid-19 treatment boosted traders.

About 20 minutes after the open, the bellwether Dow Jones Industrial Average followed up on Thursday's positive close by inching up 0.1% to 28 387.29.

The broad-based S&P 500 also was up 0.1% at 3 457.72.

However, the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.3% to 11 472.25.

Investors were cheered by news Gilead Sciences won approval for its remdesivir treatment for coronavirus from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company's share price jumped 3.4%.

After days of ups and downs in the months-long, deadlocked negotiations, there were more comments indicating policymakers in Washington were nearer to securing a deal on another stimulus package with little time remaining before the November 3 presidential election.

"Given the opposition among Republican senators to the large package that the White House and House Democrats are negotiating, it would seem as if the markets are more focused on the likelihood (of a deal) later," said Karl Haeling of LBBW.

Focus had turned instead to the final debate between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who is leading in national polls.

Dow member Intel slid 11% and American Express fell 2.5% on disappointing earnings.

But toymaker Mattel jumped 10.4% after reporting a profit boosted by sales of its popular Barbie dolls.

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