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US Stocks Creep Higher                 10/21 09:14

   Stocks are drifting higher on Wall Street Wednesday as negotiations continue 
in Washington on more aid for the economy, though prospects remain cloudy that 
anything can happen soon.

   NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are drifting higher on Wall Street Wednesday as 
negotiations continue in Washington on more aid for the economy, though 
prospects remain cloudy that anything can happen soon.

   The S&P 500 was up 0.4% after swinging between very small gains and losses 
in early trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 65 points, or 0.2%, 
at 28,373, as of 9:44 a.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was 0.6% 
higher.

   Netflix fell 3.9% for one of the largest losses in the S&P 500 after it said 
growth in its subscriber rolls slumped by more during the summer than it had 
forecast. It also reported a weaker quarterly profit than analysts expected, 
following a surge earlier this year when people were yearning for things to 
watch amid coronavirus-caused lockdowns.

   It's a rare disappointing report in what's so far been a much better 
earnings season than Wall Street girded for. Roughly one in six of the 
companies in the S&P 500 index has reported its results for the 
July-through-September quarter, and most have topped the low expectations 
analysts had set.

   S&P 500 companies are on track to report a decline of a little less than 18% 
in earnings per share for the quarter from a year ago, which is not as bad as 
the 21% drop that analysts were forecasting at the end of the quarter, 
according to FactSet.

   Much of Wall Street's focus has been on Washington, though, where White 
House officials and Democrats are negotiating on another round of support to 
prop up the still-struggling economy.

   The two sides have been making progress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her 
Democratic colleagues in a letter late Tuesday. She said she hopes discussions 
will continue, past a self-imposed deadline of Tuesday.

   Markets have been swinging recently with the perceived prospects of such 
stimulus. Investors have been clamoring for it since the summer, when extra 
benefits for laid-off workers and other support provided by the last round of 
aid approved by Congress expired.

   But even if leaders from the White House and House of Representatives can 
reach a compromise soon, its fate looks unclear on Capitol Hill due to its 
growing price tag. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told fellow 
Republicans that he has warned the White House not to divide the party by 
sealing a relief deal before the election that could cost $2 trillion.

   Regardless of the opposition, Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said, "the one lesson 
we can take is that the U.S. fiscal stimulus package remains the only thing 
financial markets are concentrating on, to the exclusion of everything else."

   The yield on the 10-year Treasury held steady at 0.81% after rising as high 
as 0.83% earlier Wednesday. It's been generally climbing since dropping close 
to 0.60% early last month.

   In London, the FTSE 100 index sank 1.4% after data showed government 
borrowing rose to the highest level on record in the first half of the 
financial year as tax revenue fell and authorities spent billions of pounds to 
prop up an economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

   France's CAC 40 fell 1%, and Germany's DAX lost 0.9%.

   In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.3%, South Korea's Kospi added 0.5% and 
Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 0.8%. Stocks in Shanghai slipped 0.1%.

 
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