US stocks waffle on earnings and $2 trillion stimulus hopes

US stock investors are digesting more earnings reports and eyeing the stalemate in Washington over a new stimulus deal.

US stocks climbed higher on Friday with 10 of 11 S&P sectors gaining at the open as investors cling to hope that political differences will be put aside and Washington will soon pass a historic $2 trillion aid package [File: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg]

Wall Street’s main stock indexes were hovering near unchanged on Friday as investors digest more earnings reports and wonder if Washington will overcome its partisan differences and pass another round of stimulus – even after the United States elections on November 3.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average hovered barely in positive territory in midmorning trading in New York – up 15.84 points or 0.06 percent at 28,379.50.

The S&P 500 – a gauge for the health of US retirement and college savings reports – was up 0.27 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index was fractionally in the red – down 0.16 percent.

Talks on a stimulus package between Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and the White House’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are still continuing and with only 11 days to election day, the clock is quite literally ticking.

President Donald Trump has offered to sign a $1.8 trillion bill but the Democrats have been holding out for the full $2.2 trillion package they want.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, speaking to Fox News on Wednesday, said Trump was willing to “lean in” and was considering a $1.9 trillion bill.

On Friday, White House economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, told Bloomberg TV, “It’s not going to be easy”, adding that the US is in a V-shaped recovery but the stimulus is still critical to help struggling sectors of the economy.

Trump supports granting funds to small businesses, schools for COVID-19 related renovations and updates, and airlines clobbered by the drop in travel, but he “does not want to bail out poorly run States” and their pension systems, Kudlow said.

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, answers a question as President Donald Trump listens during the second and final presidential debate at the Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee [File: Morry Gash/Reuters]

Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden sparred on the economy, the stock market, and coronavirus lockdowns during Thursday’s final presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee.

“The stock market will boom if I’m elected,” Trump said on Thursday. “If he’s elected the stock market will crash.”

“That’s his only measure. What happens to the ordinary people out there,” Biden replied, adding: “I’m going to shut down the virus, not the country.”

A record 47 million Americans have already cast their ballots for who they want to see pull the country out of the deepest economic hole since the Great Depression. And while Biden seemed to gain a lead in the polls over the last few weeks, the contest is tightening in some key battleground states.

Among stocks making headlines on Friday:

Shares of chipmaker Intel were down nearly 11 percent in midmorning trading in New York after the company reported earnings that beat estimates but disappointed investors who were looking for the chip giant to have profited more handsomely from the shift to remote work.

Shares of Uber and Lyft were down 1.28 percent and 0.48 percent, respectively. A California appeals court ruled that the ride-hailing app firms must classify their drivers as employees instead of independent contractors – upholding a lower court order.

Source: Al Jazeera