Industrial and tech stocks lift Wall Street at the end of choppy month


By Devik Jain and Shreyashi Sanyal

Wall Street’s main indexes rose on Wednesday, led by industrials and technology-related stocks, although investors remained cautious after a heated presidential debate pointed to a tough election race ahead.

Ten of the 11 major S&P indexes were trading higher, with energy <.SPNY> also among the biggest gainers in early trading. Financials <.SPSY> and energy stocks have both been hammered this month as investors oscillated between growth-linked and value-linked sectors.

The S&P 500 was headed for its first monthly decline since the coronavirus-driven crash in March, with trading becoming more volatile in the past few weeks on increasing doubts about whether President Donald Trump would accept the election’s outcome if he lost.

In a chaotic and bad-tempered first debate, Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden battled fiercely over Trump’s record on the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare and the economy.

“It is becoming more likely that we won’t have a clear-cut winner on the night of the election and could have a few weeks of contested period,” said Masahiko Loo, portfolio manager at AllianceBernstein in Tokyo.

Analysts said stock markets could also see quarter-end rebalancing of investor portfolios on Wednesday, as the previous session was marked by market participants booking profits after a strong start to the week.

Despite the expected weakness in September, the S&P 500 was on course for its best two-quarter winning streak since 2009 and the Nasdaq since 2000.

At 9:59 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> was up 1.03% with Boeing Co <BA.N> and Goldman Sachs Group Inc <GS.N> providing the biggest boost to the blue-chip index.

The S&P 500 <.SPX> was up 0.78% and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> 0.89%.

Heavyweight tech mega-caps including Apple Inc <AAPL.O>, Facebook Inc <FB.O>, Inc <AMZN.O>, Netflix Inc <NFLX.O> and Alphabet Inc <GOOGL.O> rose between 0.4% and 1.4%.

Sentiment was also supported by data showing U.S. private employers stepped up hiring in September as well as the Chicago PMI reading jumping to 62.4, the highest level since December 2018.

Investors now await a more detailed jobs report from the Labor Department on Friday.

Moderna Inc <MRNA.O> rose 5.4% after researchers said its COVID-19 vaccine candidate produced virus-neutralizing antibodies in older adults at levels similar to those seen in younger adults in an early safety study.

Walt Disney Co <DIS.N> edged lower as it plans to lay off roughly 28,000 employees, mostly at its U.S. theme parks.

Micron Technology Inc <MU.O> slipped 5.7% after the chipmaker said it has not yet obtained new licenses needed to sell its memory chips to China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd <HWT.UL>, which would cut its sales over the next two quarters.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 3.47-to-1 on the NYSE and 2.58-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded five new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 31 new highs and 12 new lows.

(Reporting by Devik Jain and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Sagarika Jaisinghani)

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