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US Stocks Close Higher Thursday        10/22 16:05

   U.S. stocks overcame a wobbly start to finish higher Thursday, as traders 
welcomed more corporate quarterly results for the summer that weren't as bad as 
Wall Street feared.

   (AP) -- U.S. stocks overcame a wobbly start to finish higher Thursday, as 
traders welcomed more corporate quarterly results for the summer that weren't 
as bad as Wall Street feared.

   The S&P 500 rose 0.5% after shifting between small gains and losses 
throughout the morning. The index recouped all of its losses from a day 
earlier, but remains on track for its first weekly loss after notching a gain 
in each of the previous three weeks.

   Health care companies, banks, and communication services stocks accounted 
for most of the gains. Energy stocks also rose as the price of U.S. crude oil 
pushed 1.6% higher. Those gains outweighed losses by technology companies and 
elsewhere in the market. Treasury yields rose, a sign that investors are 
feeling better about the economy.

   After a downbeat start, stocks wobbled for a bit as traders weighed 
encouraging economic new data on weekly U.S. unemployment aid claims and 
September home sales. The indexes flipped into the green by midafternoon after 
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that negotiations for another round of economic 
stimulus were progressing.

   The day's gyrations echo the market's meandering trading in recent weeks as 
investors gauge the chances of Washington reaching a deal on more support for 
the economy. Time is running out to get something done before the election, 
which has dimmed some of the optimism that Democrats and Republicans will soon 
strike a bargain on an aid package.

   "I have very low expectations for a stimulus deal, but the economic news and 
corporate earnings news is pretty good, and that's encouraging," said Phil 
Orlando, chief equity strategist at Federated Hermes.

   The S&P 500 rose 17.93 points to 3,453.49. The Dow Jones Industrial Average 
gained 152.84 points, or 0.5%, to 28,363.66. The Nasdaq composite added 21.31 
points, or 0.2%, to 11,506.01.

   Smaller company stocks fared better than the rest of the market. The Russell 
2000 small-cap index climbed 26.48 points, or 1.7%, to 1,630.25.

   Investors have been hoping Washington will provide more aid for the economy, 
which continues to struggle due to the pandemic. The last round of beefed-up 
aid for unemployed Americans expired at the end of July. Any compromise will 
likely face stiff resistance from Republicans in the Senate.

   Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been negotiating daily 
this week on a possible aid package. On Thursday, Pelosi said that progress is 
still being made.

   "Help is on the way. It will be bigger, it will be better, it will be safer 
and it will be retroactive," she said.

   A piece of such a deal could include extra benefits for workers who lost 
their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. A report on Thursday morning showed 
that 787,000 workers applied for unemployment benefits last week.

   While that's still an incredibly high number relative to history, it's down 
from 842,000 the prior week. It also was not nearly as bad as economists were 

   The number of workers continuing to get jobless benefits is likewise easing 
from its pandemic-era peak. That's a sign that some people have been able to 
find new jobs, but it also shows that others are simply using up the last of 
their state unemployment benefits.

   The economy continues to show signs of overall improvement, said Jeff 
Buchbinder, equity strategist at LPL Financial, including solid gains in retail 
sales in September. That has dampened some of the immediate need for more 
stimulus, but high unemployment is still a problem.

   "There's a ways to go, but the outperformance of the U.S. economy over the 
last several months clearly reduced the need for stimulus," he said. "There's 
widespread agreement that more stimulus is needed, but it may be more targeted."

   Another report showed that sales of previously occupied homes accelerated 
even more last month than economists expected. Low mortgage rates are driving 
the action, as is a surge in interest in homes in Lake Tahoe and other resort 
areas as people look to work from home in more attractive locales, according to 
the National Association of Realtors.

   Big companies, meanwhile, continue to report profits for the summer that 
took a hit from the coronavirus-caused recession. But they're mostly not as bad 
as feared.

   Align Technology, which makes Invisalign teeth straighteners, surged 35% for 
the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after its earnings report blew past Wall 
Street's expectations. Stronger sales to teenagers helped the company more than 
triple analysts' expectations for earnings per share.

   The stock's surge helped drive health care to the biggest gain among the 11 
sectors that make up the S&P 500.

   AT&T strengthened by 5.8% after it reported revenue for the latest quarter 
that beat analysts' expectations. Coca-Cola gained 1.4%, and Tesla rose 0.7% 
after both reported earnings that topped Wall Street's forecasts.

   On the losing end were several Big Tech companies. Amazon fell 0.3% and 
Apple dropped 1%.

   Those declines are slight, particularly when compared with the gargantuan 
gains the stocks made earlier this year. Big Tech companies have grown so 
massive in size that their stock movements have outsized sway on the S&P 500 
and other indexes that are based on the market value of companies.

   Overall, earnings have so far been stronger than expected, Buchbinder said, 
which is a good sign for the economy moving forward.

   "The most important thing for the market is to know that the economic 
recovery is continuing," he said. "Investors are hoping to hear from companies 
that economic conditions are improving."

   The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.86% from 0.83% late Wednesday. 
It's still close to its highest level since June.

   European markets ended mostly lower, and Asian markets were mixed.

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