U.S. stocks gained ground as former Vice President moved into the lead in the key swing state of Pennsylvania, and as the latest news on employment report turned out to be better than expected.
Following the fourth-straight daily gain for Wall Street, major U.S. indexes were headed for the best weekly returns since April, with the S&P 500 up more than 7% as of Thursday. Stocks were down earlier, but gained as the news of Biden’s lead offered more clarity on the outcome of the race.
A win for Biden in Pennsylvania, if it happens, would give him the 270 electoral-college votes he needs to succeed President Donald Trump.
In early trading, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were near the break-even line, while the S&P 500 was off by around 0.2% and Nasdaq Composite futures were down 0.5%.
Adding to the positive sentiment was a report that showed 638,000 jobs were created in the U.S. in October, compared with the 530,000 forecast by economists in a MarketWatch survey. Importantly, the figures showed an influx of jobs in the private sector, where 906,000 jobs were added, offsetting a loss of 268,000 government jobs. The unemployment rate fell to 6.9%.
Treasury yields rose after the report. The 10-year yield was up 3 basis points (hundredths of a percentage point) to 0.8%, after steep declines earlier in the week.
Earlier Friday, Biden pulled ahead of Trump in Georgia, according to the state’s tally. The former vice president needs to win in just one of four swing states yet to be called—Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania—while Trump must win in all four.
Trump repeated claims of election fraud, without evidence, up, in a news conference late Thursday. Given those claims and threats of legal action, “markets are understandably more anxious than they have been since the early moments of Wednesday morning,” said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at SpreadEx, in a note to clients.
Meanwhile, the U.S. was the first country to report more than 100,000 coronavirus cases a day on Wednesday, a grim record that repeated on Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That’s as Europe also battles rising infections, with many new measures, including lockdowns and curfews across several countries.
Peloton Interactive (PTON) shares slipped 5.4% despite reporting better-than-expected earnings. But investors were worried that the company spoke of extra shipping expenses as it deals with its backlog of orders.
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