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US open: Mixed start to trading as stimulus talks remain in focus

By Iain Gilbert

Date: Friday 23 Oct 2020

US open: Mixed start to trading as stimulus talks remain in focus

(Sharecast News) - Wall Street stocks were mixed following the opening bell on Friday as stimulus and election headlines were taking up much of investors' attention yet again.
As of 1530 BST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.03% at 28,354.54 and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.19% weaker at 11,484.18, while the S&P 500 was 0.13% firmer at 3,458.01.

The Dow opened 9.12 points lower on Friday, cutting into gains recorded in the previous session as the upcoming US election and stimulus talks were firmly in focus.

Friday's moves came after Thursday evening's final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden before the US election on 3 November.

During the debate, the pair covered a number of topics - including the Covid-19 pandemic, foreign policy and healthcare.

Turning again to stimulus talks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that both she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had made some progress in their negotiations.

"If we were not making progress, I wouldn't spend five seconds in these conversations," said Pelosi.

"This is not anything other than I think a serious attempt. I do believe that both sides want to reach an agreement."

However, Pelosi then went on to temper expectations of Democrats and Republicans striking a deal before the election, stating it could very well take "a while" for a bill to be written and then signed.

In corporate news, Intel shares slumped after the chipmaker reported some mixed quarterly figures, while Gilead Sciences stock recorded gains overnight after seeing remdesivir approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in treating Covid-19.

American Express shares were lower in early trade after missing third-quarter earnings forecasts amid a spending slump.

On the macro front, business activity increased to an almost two-year high in October, however, the pace of new business growth and orders was dialled back slightly due to both the Covid-19 pandemic and the upcoming presidential election.

IHS Markit said on Friday its flash composite purchasing managers output index rose to a reading of 55.5 for October, its highest since February 2019.

The survey's flash composite new orders index dipped to 54.3 from 54.8 in September and the flash services sector PMI rose to 56 this month, a 20-month high, from a print of 54.6 in in the prior month.

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