Wall Street has closed higher at the end of a whipsaw session as investors juggled hopeful and pessimistic news on the progress of stimulus talks in Washington DC amid signs of waning momentum of economic recovery from the pandemic recession, now entering its ninth month.
All three major US stock indexes closed higher, with the Nasdaq in the lead and the Dow recording the smallest gain.
A spate of data, including jobless claims and consumer spending, suggested that the plodding US economic recovery could be losing steam.
Investors now look to the Labor Department’s employment report expected on Friday to further gauge the economy’s progress.
In negotiations for a new pandemic relief deal, the White House countered House Democrats’ $US2.2 trillion ($A3.1 trillion) package with a $US1.5 trillion-plus proposal.
But an imminent deal seemed elusive after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cautioned that Democrats and the White House remained locked in a debate over dollars and values.
“It’s all about fiscal stimulus and the ball is in Congress’ court,” said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“We continue to believe they’re inching closer and approaching the final inning, but the last stretch is often the hardest.”
“We believe we’ll have a deal before the election and both sides will claim victory,” Detrick added.
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq again got most of their support from large cap tech and tech-adjacent stocks, with Amazon.com, Microsoft Corp and Apple Inc providing the biggest boosts.
“With the disappointment out of Washington we see this move back to the safety trade of big tech,” Detrick said.
“Today is a microcosm of last six months.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 35.2 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 27,816.9, the S&P 500 gained 17.8 points, or 0.53 per cent, to 3,380.8 and the Nasdaq Composite added 159.00 points, or 1.42 per cent, to 11,326.51.
Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, seven ended the session higher.
Real estate was the largest percentage gainer while energy companies were the biggest losers, down 3.1 per cent.
With the books closed on the third quarter, market participants await earnings season, set to get underway in about two weeks.
Analysts currently expect S&P 500 earnings, in aggregate, to fall by 21.4 per cent year-on-year according to Refinitiv.
Exxon Mobil Corp dropped 3.5 per cent after it signalled a bigger-than-expected third quarter loss due to falling oil prices and plunging demand.
Shares for retailer Bed Bath & Beyond Inc soared by 25.1 per cent after posting a surprise quarterly profit due to its booming online business.
Boeing Co rose 1.6 per cent and after US Federal Aviation Administration Chief Steve Dickson remarked “I liked what I saw” in the previous day’s 737 MAX test flight.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.18-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.99-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 12 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 67 new highs and 40 new lows.
Volume on US exchanges was 9.55 billion shares compared with the 10.06 billion average over the last 20 trading days.