Dow jumps 373 points as stimulus hopes blot out weak jobs data

Traders NYSE greenLucas Jackson/Reuters

  • US stocks climbed on Wednesday as investors maintained optimism for a bipartisan stimulus measure.
  • Democrats and the Trump administration hope to reach a deal by the end of the week but remain split on issues including expanded unemployment benefits and aid for state and local governments.
  • Fears of rising US-China tensions cooled after reports that senior officials from both countries will meet on August 15 to discuss their “phase one” trade deal.
  • Still, ADP jobs data offered a bleak look at the US economic recovery. The country added 167,000 private payrolls in July, well below the 1.2 million estimate from economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US equities rose on Wednesday as optimism around passing a second stimulus bill outweighed dismal jobs data.

The S&P 500 landed within 2% of a record high. The Dow Jones industrial average posted its fourth-straight gain, lifted mostly by rallying Disney shares.

Republicans and Democrats face increasing pressure to ink a deal on a second round of fiscal relief. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that the White House and Democratic legislators hope to finalize a deal by the end of the week.

Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET close on Wednesday:

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Still, disagreements on unemployment insurance expansion and aid for state and local governments stand in the way of a breakthrough. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Mnuchin reportedly told Republican legislators that, if a deal isn’t made by Friday, there won’t be a stimulus bill agreement.

Hiring data released by ADP on Wednesday showed private payrolls in the US increasing by 167,000 in July. The reading lands well below the 1.2 million estimate from economists surveyed by Bloomberg and the revised 4.3 million increase seen in June.

Investors also weighed reports of US-China trade negotiations set to start later this month. The Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday that senior US and Chinese officials will discuss the countries’ “phase one” trade deal on August 15, six months after the agreement was made. News of the talks comes after recently inflamed tensions between the economic superpowers spooked markets.

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A better-than-expected quarterly performance by Disney boosted major indexes. The company posted a surprise profit of 8 cents per share and announced it surpassed 100 million subscribers across its Disney Plus, ESPN , and Hulu streaming services.

Novavax shares surged after the biotech firm revealed its COVID-19 vaccine “was generally well-tolerated and elicited robust antibody responses” in an early-stage study.

Shares of online retail firm BigCommerce more than tripled in its trading debut before shares were halted due to volatility. The company sold 9 million shares and raised roughly $216 million.

Square gained after reporting a 64% leap in quarterly revenue year-over-year. The jump was “driven primarily by sellers resuming operations as COVID-19–related restrictions eased, sellers adapting to contactless commerce, and new sellers joining Square,” the company said.

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High-flying Nikola Motors sank after the company missed expectations in its first-ever earnings report. The automaker’s quarterly loss swelled to $86.6 million from $16.8 million in the year-ago period. Losses per share reached 16 cents compared to the analyst estimate of 13 cents. Analysts on Nikola’s earnings call pressed the firm for not revealing more details on future sales or product rollouts.

Airline stocks rallied after Senate Republicans pitched an additional $25 billion in government loans for the ailing sector. Though billions were offered to the firms in March’s CARES Act, several airlines instead raised cash in the revived debt market.

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Gold spot prices rose to a new record high after passing the $2,000 per ounce level on Tuesday. The precious metal has rallied in recent weeks amid fears of a weakening dollar and broad shift to safe-haven assets.

Oil jumped to its highest level in five months after a deadly explosion in Lebanon prompted new fears of market volatility in the region. West Texas Intermediate crude gained as much as 4.4%, to $43.52 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international standard, climbed 4.1%, to $46.23 per barrel, at intraday highs.

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