Stocks finished higher Thursday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was "hopeful" of agreeing to terms of a stimulus bill with the White House and investors digested a number of solid earnings reports.
The number of Americans applying for first-time jobless benefits registered a surprise dip last week, falling below 800,000 for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began to hurt the U.S. economy and jobs market. Revisions to California's jobless-claim numbers were partly behind the drop.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 152 points, or 0.54%, to 28,363, the S&P 500 gained 0.52% and the Nasdaq edged up 0.19%.
“We continue to be engaged in negotiations, and I am hopeful we will be able to reach an agreement,” Pelosi said at a news conference Thursday. She told MSNBC that it was her "hope" to get a relief package done by Election Day, Nov. 3.
Whatever plan Pelosi hatches with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, however, will face a Senate reluctant to approve a proposed package of about $2 trillion.
Holding back further gains were a surge in coronavirus cases in Europe and a two-month high for Covid-19 hospitalizations in the U.S.
Gilead Sciences (GILD) said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the antiviral drug remdesivir to treat patients who have covid-19 and require hospitalization. President Donald Trump was treated with remdesivir after he was diagnosed with the coronavirus.
The stock finished the regular Thursday session up 0.8% at $60.67. In after-hours trades the stock at last check was 4% higher at $63.10.
AT&T (T) reported third-quarter revenue of $42.34 billion, higher than analysts' estimates, as the telecom giant added more subscribers to its HBO Max streaming service and its wireless network than expected in the period. The shares rose 5.9% to $28.29.