Stocks gyrated on Thursday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled once again that Democrats and the White House were making progress on U.S. stimulus negotiations.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 25 points lower, or 0.1%, at around 11:40 a.m. ET. Earlier, the Dow had fallen 170 points; it was also marginally higher at one point. The S&P 500 traded just 0.1% lower. The Nasdaq Composite was down 0.4%.
Pelosi said Thursday a deal on new coronavirus aid was “just about there.” She also said: “If we were not making progress, I wouldn’t spend five seconds in these conversations. … This is not anything other than I think a serious attempt. I do believe that both sides want to reach an agreement.”
To be sure, Pelosi noted that both sides have yet to reach an agreement on certain key issues, including state and local funding.
Those comments came a day after Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had a conversation that brought them “closer to being able to put pen to paper to write legislation,” according to Drew Hamill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff.
Despite Pelosi’s optimism, expectations of a bill being signed before the Nov. 3 election remain downbeat, with President Donald Trump tweeting on Wednesday: “Just don’t see any way Nancy Pelosi and Cryin’ Chuck Schumer will be willing to do what is right for our great American workers, or our wonderful USA itself, on Stimulus.”
“With no clear end to the pandemic in sight, the economy needs additional fiscal support that will last for several months,” Prajakta Bhide, a strategist at MRB Partners, said in a note. “The passing of a sizeable additional fiscal stimulus by the beginning of next year, and better control over the COVID-19 pandemic next year via the timely approval of a medical solution will be essential to ensure continued economic growth next year.”
Companies continued to file third-quarter earnings reports on Wednesday, with both electric car maker Tesla and burrito chain Chipotle offering investors updates on their businesses.
Elon Musk’s Tesla reported its fifth straight quarter of profits, reporting per-share earnings of 76 cents versus the consensus estimate of 57 cents expected by analysts polled by Refinitiv. The company had already reported that it delivered 139,300 vehicles during the quarter, a new record for Tesla.
CEO Musk noted on the company’s earnings call that Tesla plans to start delivering cars from new factories in Brandenburg, Germany and Austin, Texas in 2021 but that output could be slow at first. The stock was up 2.7%.
Coca-Cola rose more than 1% after the company reported a stronger-than-forecast profit for the previous quarter. CSX and AT&T also rose on the back of better-than-expected earnings.
Chipotle Mexican Grill, meanwhile, saw its equity fall 5% after it said a shift to delivery orders ballooned costs and led to reduced drink sales in the third quarter.
U.S. officials said overnight Iran is taking steps to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, and Russia has obtained American voter information. The announcement from the nation’s top intelligence officials came amid an already-fierce election season and adds to uncertainty as the U.S. tries to navigate the health and economic fallout caused by the coronavirus.
The after-hours moves came on the heels of losses on Wall Street during Wednesday’s regular session. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 97.97 points, or 0.4%, reversing a gain of more than 100 points earlier in the day. The S&P 500 dipped 0.2% while the Nasdaq Composite shed 0.3% on Wednesday.
On the data front, the Labor Department said weekly jobless claims fell to 787,000 for the week ending Oct. 17. That marks the first time since March that claims come in below 800,000. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected first-time applicants for state unemployment insurance to have totaled 875,000.
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