Wall Street’s main stock indexes were all higher on Friday putting the S&P 500 and the Dow on course for their second straight weekly gain as investors clung to hopes that a new round of virus relief aid can be agreed between the White House and Congress.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up more than 162 points, or roughly half a percentage point, at 28,588.47 in early afternoon trading in New York.
The S&P 500 – a gauge for the health of US retirement and college savings reports – was up 0.83 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index gained 1.19 percent.
Stocks got a boost earlier in the session after United States President Donald Trump tweeted: “Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!”
Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2020
Investor spirits were also lifted after the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the negotiations, reported that the White House is preparing a $1.8 trillion stimulus proposal.
Wall Street has been gripped by volatility in the wake of on-again, off-again talks in Washington on a new round of coronavirus virus relief aid for struggling US businesses and households.
US stocks fell sharply on Tuesday after Trump said he had called off negotiations with Democrats in Congress led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi until after the November 3 elections.
But the stock markets bounced back the following day after Trump urged Congress to immediately pass targeted aid for airlines and small businesses, and a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks for individuals.
On Thursday, Pelosi said talks with the White House were progressing but said a targeted aid package for the nation’s hard-hit airlines would only happen if there is agreement on a more comprehensive plan.
Meanwhile, investors are also positioning portfolios for a possible win by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on November 3.
Biden has gained a substantial lead over Trump in recent polls.
A new Reuters news agency/Ipsos poll found Americans are losing confidence in Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
And while investors ponder what a Biden and Democratic win would mean for a big stimulus package, others are wary about a Democrat pledge to hike corporate tax rates.
Data on Thursday showed the US labour market recovery is struggling and losing momentum. The number of jobless claims in the US came in 20,000 higher than economists expected at 840,000, according to the Labor Department.
Concerns are also growing over the return of lockdowns and restrictions. The World Health Organization on Thursday reported a record one-day jump in global COVID-19 cases.
Another round of lockdowns will cause severe if irreversible pain for the US retail market.
“Retail property was in trouble before the virus, with many locations seeing values under pressure well in advance. Lockdowns provided a further severe jolt, with widespread closures and consumers adapting by shifting to online channels,” Andrew Burrell, chief property economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a Friday note.
Among stocks to watch on Friday:
General Electric shares were up 3.75 percent in early afternoon trading after a report said Goldman Sachs reinstated coverage on the US industrial conglomerate with a “buy” rating.
Shares of Gilead Sciences were up 1.18 percent after final data from the drugmaker’s antiviral drug remdesivir showed the treatment cut coronavirus recovery time by five days.
Shares of JetBlue Airways, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines were all trading higher on hopes of more stimulus for the industry.
Airline CEOs continue to warn that additional layoffs are coming unless the government provides more help immediately.