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Markets mixed on stimulus uncertainty

2020-10-24 HKT 05:11
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  • Stimulus talks continue to drive movement on Wall Street ahead of the US elections. File image: Shutterstock
    Stimulus talks continue to drive movement on Wall Street ahead of the US elections. File image: Shutterstock
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed modestly higher on Friday in choppy trading, with investors keeping a close eye on negotiations on a US stimulus package that would ease the economic shock caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow ended lower on the day, moving within tight ranges.

Uncertainty over the timeline of the relief legislation has been weighing on Wall Street's major indexes in recent sessions, with all three indexes posting declines for the week.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it still was possible to get another round of Covid-19 aid before the November 3 election, but that it was up to President Donald Trump to act, including talking to reluctant Senate Republicans, if he wants it.

Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin countered that Pelosi must compromise to get an aid package, saying significant differences remained between the Republican administration and Democrats.

Still the market believes a stimulus deal is going to get done: The only question would be size and timing, analysts said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.1 percent, at 28,336, the S&P 500 gained 0.34 percent, to 3,465 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.37 percent, to 11,548.

The communication services sector rose 1.1 percent, the highest gainer among the major S&P sectors.

"This has been a stimulus-driven market for several weeks – today is more evidence of that," said Lindsey Bell, chief investment strategist at Ally Invest, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"The market believes we are getting a stimulus. But it wants to know when it's going to pass because it's going to take time for the money to flow out," she added.

A sharp 10 percent fall in chipmaker Intel Corp after it reported a drop in margins earlier weighed on the market. Intel's results were pressured as consumers bought cheaper laptops and pandemic-stricken businesses and governments clamped down on data center spending.

Next week's focus will be on results from Big Tech companies Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google-parent Alphabet. (Reuters)