US stocks mostly up in choppy trading after better data

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 stocks were mostly higher early Thursday as investors weighed better US economic data against worries about the coronavirus and unease over the upcoming US presidential election.

After sustaining big declines on Wednesday, US equity indices were choppy just after trading opened after the US reported a historic jump in third-quarter growth following a worst-ever decline in activity in the prior quarter.

About 20 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 26 456.86, down 0.2%.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 0.2% at 3 277.88, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.6% to 11 070.29.

The Commerce Department reported that the US economy expanded at a 33.1% annual rate in the third quarter, following a 31.4% drop in the prior quarter.

The gain, a bit better than analyst expectations, was driven by a surge in spending by consumers and businesses that analysts fear could erode with the absence of additional fiscal support from Washington as the US contends with the hit from Covid-19.

In other data Thursday, new applications for US jobless benefits fell to 751 000 for the week ended October 24, which was better than expected but still well above historical norms.

"The resurgence in Covid-19 infections and failure to pass additional fiscal relief pose considerable downside risk to the economy," said Nancy Vanden Houten of Oxford Economics.

The US data came one day after France and Germany announced new restrictions in response to spikes in coronavirus infections.

Investors also are contending with a busy week for earnings reports, with releases later in the day from tech giants Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook.

Markets are also girding for a potentially messy US election next week, with polls suggesting the possibility of a split control over the main branches of government that could limit Washington's ability to enact fiscal stimulus measures to boost the economy.

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