U.S. Stocks Close Modestly Higher

Despite staying somewhat sluggish at times during the day’s session, U.S. stocks closed modestly higher on Tuesday as investors continued to hope the lawmakers will eventually agree on a stimulus plan sometime soon.

Stronger than expected earnings reports from Procter & Gamble (PG) and Travelers Companies Inc. (TRV) contributed as well to the firm trend in the market.

Reports that Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine could be available for emergency use in December if it gets positive results from interim trial in November further aided sentiment.

As stocks held in positive territory right through the session, the major averages all ended on a firm note. The Dow, which was up more than 300 points at one stage, ended with a gain of 113.37 points or 0.4 percent at 28,308.79, the Nasdaq climbed 37.61 points or 0.33 percent to close at 11,516.49 and the S&P 500 advanced 16.20 points or 0.47 percent to 3,443.12.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today that Democrats and the White House have moved closer to a coronavirus stimulus agreement. Pelosi is scheduled to discuss again with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin later in the afternoon.

Pelosi downplayed the importance of an end-of-Tuesday deadline she had set to strike an agreement and added that she would continue to discuss, saying lawmakers would have to come to a deal and write a bill before the end of the week in order to have a legistlation ready before Election Day.

Procter & Gamble reported a 19 percent jump in profit for the first quarter of fiscal 2021 from last year.

The Traverlers Companies Inc. said its third quarter profit came in at $3.12 per share, compared to $1.43, prior year.

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) reported third-quarter profit of $1.70 billion or $1.89 per share, up from $1.67 billion or $1.87 per share last year. That was in line with expectations. IBM shares tumbled more than 6%.

DuPont (DWDP), McDonalds (MCD), Coca-Cola (KO), Apple (AAPL) and Honeywell International (HON) closed with strong gains.

In economic news, data released by the Commerce Department showed building permits in the United States rose 5.2% from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.553 million in September of 2020, the highest level since March 2007. The rise was also above market expectations of 1.52 million.

Meanwhile, housing starts in the country rose 1.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.415 million units in September 2020, from a downwardly revised 1.388 million in the previous month. The rise in September was below market expectations of 1.457 million units.

In overseas trading, the major European markets ended mostly lower on Tuesday with investors largely making cautious moves as they closely followed the developments over U.S. stimulus talks and updates on virus cases, and reacting to earnings reports and other corporate news.

The pan European Stoxx 600 slid 0.35 percent. Germany’s DAX shed 0.92 percent, France’s CAC 40 ended down 0.27 percent, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 edged up 0.08 percent. Switzerland’s SMI declined 0.37 percent.

Asian stocks ended mixed on Tuesday as Europe reported record daily coronavirus infections and investors waited for fresh news on U.S. fiscal stimulus ahead of the deadline to reach an agreement.

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