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US stocks end mixed session on rising COVID-19 rates and stimulus impasse

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell adjourned the Senate until November 9, further diminishing the prospects for an aid deal being reached before the election

Microsoft Corporation - Wall Street expected to bounce back from Monday’s slump

4:05 pm: Most US equities fall as Nasdaq ekes out win

US stocks closed a mixed session on raising coronavirus (COVID-19) infections and Washington’s failure to approve a stimulus package. 

On the day, the DJIA dropped 222 points, or 0.80%, to 27,463, its worst day in nearly two months. The S&P 500 declined 0.30% to 3,390 but the tech-heavy Nasdaq managed an increase of 0.64% to 11,431. 

12:20 pm: Dow splits with Nasdaq, S&P caught in the middle

The DJIA has muddled in the red all day, dropping 78 points, 0.3%, to 27,607.1 at midday. The tech-centric Nasdaq fared much better, gaining 69 points, 0.6%, to 11,428, and the S&P 500 ticked up less than a point to 3,401.6.

The Dow's struggles come on the heels of what was its worst day since early September. The slowdown could be linked to rising coronavirus cases, which have averaged a record 69,967 new cases per day over the past week. 

Talks are still ongoing between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and the possibility that a deal could get done before the November 3 election is still technically alive. 

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite has been carried by tech players including Microsoft Corporation, which reports quarterly results after the bell Tuesday. The company's stock is up 1.3% to $212.80.

9:38 am: Major indices tell conflicting stories

Despite expectations of a broadly positive open, the main indices on Wall Street started Tuesday’s session on a mixed note.

In the early minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.26% to 27,620, while the S&P 500 was broadly flat at 3,399. The one positive performer was the Nasdaq, which rose 0.09% to 11,369.

The mixed start to the session showed that uncertainty around coronavirus and the upcoming election may have dampened initial positivity, with a better than expected rise in US durable goods orders for September, which saw a 1.9% rise compared to 0.4% in August.

7:42 am: Wall Street expected to bounce back from Monday’s slump

US indices are expected to claw back some of yesterday’s losses as bargain hunters move back in after yesterday’s cage-rattling.

Spread betting quotes point to the Dow Jones Industrial Average opening 117 points firmer at 27,802 and the S&P 500 kicking off 17 points firmer at 3,418.

The high-flying NASDAQ Composite was anything but yesterday, shedding 189 points, but it looks set to claw back those losses and more with a 211 point hike to 11,569.

The tech-heavy index received another fillip before the bell from a bit of merger & acquisitions activity, with computer chip giant Advanced Micro Devices – AMD to its fans – launching a US$35bn all-share offer for Xilinx, the programmable system-on-chip specialist.

Elsewhere, 3M Co beat expectations with its third-quarter earnings per share (EPS) of US$2.43; analysts had penciled in a figure of US$2.26.

Drugs maker Eli Lilly’s third-quarter numbers failed to come up to snuff, however. Adjusted EPS of US$1.54 was comfortably below the US$1.71 analysts had been expecting.

The company confirmed overnight that its US clinical trial of an experimental antibody therapy will end as data suggested that the treatment is unlikely to help hospitalized patients recover from advanced forms of the coronavirus.

Turning to macroeconomic events, the US Case-Shiller house price index and Conference Board consumer confidence releases are expected.

The former is tipped to show 0.5% growth in August, down marginally from July’s 0.6% increase.

The Conference Board consumer confidence reading for October is expected to nudge up to 102 from 101.8 in September.

Five things to watch for on Tuesday:

  • On the company news front, third quarter earnings from Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT), which comes in a few days ahead of Thursday’s blockbuster earnings schedule which will feature other tech giants including Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google parent Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)
  • Earnings from pharmaceutical group Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE) are also likely to draw attention
  • Share price reaction from Caterpillar Inc (NYSE:CAT) will likely be watched after the digger maker reported a better than feared profit fall for its third quarter
  • Investors will also be eyeing computer processor maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc (NASDAQ:AMD), both for its earnings and any further details on its recently agreed US$35 billion acquisition of peer Xilinx (NASDAQ:XLNX)
  • In the macro data schedule, new orders for US manufactured durable goods over September will be eyed to see if the figure has managed to keep rising after growth in August slowed sharply to 0.4% growth, well below market forecasts and down from an 11.7% jump in July

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