Dow climbs 220 points after raucous presidential debate on renewed stimulus optimism

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  • US stocks climbed on Wednesday as investors digested a disorderly presidential debate that revived concerns of a disputed election result.
  • Premarket futures traded negative until Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that he expects to reach a stimulus deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. All three major US indexes opened in positive territory.
  • Still, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrial average are on track for their first monthly losses since March.
  • Indexes erased some losses after the September ADP report revealed US private firms added 749,000 payrolls last month. The reading handily beats the median economist estimate of 649,000 payrolls.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US equities climbed on Wednesday, even as the chaotic presidential debate fueled concerns of a contested election and fresh volatility.

Premarket futures traded negative until Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that he expects to reach a stimulus deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. All three major US indexes opened in positive territory.

Indexes also pared some premarket losses after a better-than-expected reading from the monthly ADP report. US companies added 749,000 private payrolls in September, the company said Wednesday morning. That comes in above the median economist estimate of 649,000 payrolls, according to Bloomberg data.

Here’s where US indexes stood at 9:50 a.m. on Wednesday:

  • S&P 500: 3,353.20, up 0.5%
  • Dow Jones industrial average: 27,675.92, up 0.8% (223 points)
  • Nasdaq composite: 11,137.95, up 0.5%

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The positive market open was a turnaround from declines in the futures market late Tuesday night, as President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden sparred on stage for the first time. The debate traded policy discussion for insult-tossing and interruptions, leaving some to wonder whether two more scheduled debates will still take place.

Trump repeated claims that mail-in voting is fraudulent and stopped short of confirming he will accept defeat should his opponent win in November. Several analysts have warned that disputed election results would likely drive outsized market volatility and temporarily weigh on stocks.

“It’s hard to pick a winner, I think we’re all losers as far as that debate is concerned, but Biden went into the debate clearly ahead in the polls and I’d be amazed if last night changed anything,” Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA Europe, said in a note. ” I guess he technically wins by default.”

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Despite Wednesday’s gain, the S&P 500 is on pace for its first monthly decline since March. The index suffered throughout the month as investors balked at tech giants’ lofty valuations and secured profits made in the market’s summer rally.

The monthly report serves as a precursor to the US government’s nonfarm payrolls report. The Friday release is expected to show the unemployment rate falling to 8.2% from 8.4%. Economists also expect 850,000 payroll additions in September.

Disney sank after announcing plans to fire 28,000 workers in the company’s struggling resort business. The layoff is one of the largest to take place during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Micron fell after gloomy forward guidance overshadowed the chipmaker’s strong quarterly performance. Though the company nearly doubled its profit, investors dumped shares after Micron said it’s not sure when chip sales to Huawei can resume. Huawei’s purchases comprised 10% of Micron’s fourth-quarter sales.

Spot gold continued to flirt with the $1,900 threshold, sliding 0.5% to $1,888.16 per ounce. The precious metal had been toying with the key psychological level through the past week after losing the support in mid-September.

Oil dropped as demand recovery concerns continued to cloud the market. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 1.6%, to $38.68 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, fell 1.8%, to $40.30 per barrel, at intraday lows.

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