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MARKET PULSE

U.S. stock benchmarks rose Friday morning to kick off the start of a new quarter and month, following heavy selling that closed a bruising September for investors. Some observers were attributing the more optimistic tone at the end of the week to news that Merck’s experimental antiviral drug, developed as a treatment for COVID-19 with partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, reduced the risk of hospitalization or death in at risk adult patients with mild-to-moderate COVID by about 50% in an interim analysis of data from a Phase 3 trial. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained nearly 260 points, or 0.7%, to 34,092, the S&P 500 index climbed 0.3% at 4,321, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rose less than 0.1% at 14,459.

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