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US STOCKS-Wall Street climbs on optimism over stimulus deal talks

Credit: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Wall Street's main indexes inched higher at the open on Monday on hopes of a coronavirus vaccine by the year-end, while investors were also encouraged by signs an agreement in Washington on a fiscal package could be reached soon.

By Medha Singh and Shivani Kumaresan

Oct 19 (Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes inched higher at the open on Monday on hopes of a coronavirus vaccine by the year-end, while investors were also encouraged by signs an agreement in Washington on a fiscal package could be reached soon.

Last week the White House proposed a $1.8 trillion stimulus package, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had stuck to her demand for $2.2 trillion in aid.

Pelosi said on Sunday she wanted a bill passed before the Nov. 3 presidential election, but acknowledged an agreement would have to come by Tuesday for that to happen.

"Today, stimulus has come to the front of the conversation without question," said Tom Mantione, managing director of UBS Private Wealth Management in New York.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden will debate for a final time on Thursday with about two weeks left until Election Day.

The NYSE FANG+TM index .NYFANG, which includes the core FAANG stocks, added 0.8% while nine of the 11 major indexes rose.

Wall Street's main indexes logged slight gains last week — the third in a row for the benchmark S&P 500 .SPX and the blue-chip Dow .DJI — as news that a COVID-19 vaccine could be available by the end of the year helped offset worries about the elusive federal aid bill.

After the financial sector set a mixed tone to the start of the third-quarter earnings season, investors will look to results from about 91 S&P 500 companies this week including International Business Machines Corp IBM.N and Netflix Inc NFLX.O.

Oilfield services provider Halliburton Co HAL.N posted its fourth consecutive quarterly loss as this year's slump in oil prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic hit demand for its services. Its shares, however, rose about 1%.

ConocoPhillips COP.N slipped 1.8% as it agreed to buy U.S. shale oil producer Concho Resources Inc CXO.N for $9.7 billion, as the energy sector continued to consolidate. Concho fell 1.1%.

At 9:39 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 67.45 points, or 0.24%, at 28,673.76, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 16.57 points, or 0.48%, at 3,500.38. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 92.34 points, or 0.79%, at 11,763.89.

Chipmaker Microchip Technology Inc MCHP.O gained about 3% after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to "overweight".

American Equity Investment Life Holding Co AEL.N slumped 11.8% as it said it had entered into a strategic partnership with Brookfield Asset Management Inc BAMa.TO and rejected an unsolicited acquisition proposal from Athene Holding Ltd ATH.N and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.86-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.98-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 13 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 44 new highs and eight new lows.

(Reporting by Medha Singh and Shivani Kumaresan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

((Medha.Singh@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1646 223 8780, outside U.S. +91 80 6182 2802; Twitter: https://twitter.com/medhasinghs))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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