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Stocks End Higher Ahead of Presidential Debate, Jobs Report

Stocks end sharply higher Monday as equities come off a four-week losing streak and U.S. politics are in focus.

Stocks finished sharply higher Monday as equities came off a four-week losing streak and U.S. politics were in focus ahead of the first presidential debate Tuesday between U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Investors also were monitoring the failure of lawmakers to complete a stimulus relief package before the Nov. 3 presidential election, and tensions between the U.S. and China. 

Wall Street also was paying attention to a report from The New York Times that said Trump paid just $750 in U.S. income taxes in both 2016 and 2017.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 410 points, or 1.51%, to 27,584, the S&P 500 rose 1.61% and the Nasdaq was up 1.87%.  (AMZN) - Get Free Report finished up 2.6% at $3,174.05. 

Financials, industrials and energy stocks were the leading gainers Monday.

Stocks finished higher Friday but the gains weren't enough to prevent the Dow and the S&P 500 each from falling for the fourth straight week.

The Dow declined 1.8% last week and the S&P fell 0.6%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq last week managed to finish with a gain of 1.1% in choppy trading.

Stocks remain headed for their first month of losses since March amid the lack of additional fiscal stimulus measures and a spike in new coronavirus cases.

Global confirmed cases of the virus have risen to more than 33.22 million, with deaths nearing 1 million. The U.S. has about 7.13 million cases of the virus, with deaths in the country rising to 204,905, according to Johns Hopkins University.

U.S.-China tensions continued to percolate after the Trump administration's ban on TikTok, the popular Chinese-owned video app, was temporarily blocked by a federal judge, and the U.S. imposed restrictions on China’s largest chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.

Meanwhile, the big economic event this week will be the release on Friday of the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for September. 

Economists expect the U.S. to have added 850,000 jobs in September, down from 1.371 million in August. The unemployment rate is forecast to have fallen to 8.2% from 8.4%.

The jobs report for September will be the last before the presidential election.

Cleveland-Cliffs  (CLF) - Get Free Report reached an agreement to buy the U.S. operations of Luxembourg-based steel-and-mining company ArcelorMittal  (MT) - Get Free Report for $1.4 billion in cash and stock.

The transaction would make Cleveland-Cliffs the top flat-rolled-steel maker in North America.

Shale producer Devon Energy  (DVN) - Get Free Report and rival WPX Energy WPX confirmed they would merge in an all-stock deal with an enterprise value of about $12 billion. Shares of both companies rose sharply Monday.

"The market is primed for the upside amid a slew of M&A activity and more than a few pieces of economic data to chew on," said Chris Larkin, a managing director at E-Trade. "September certainly continued to challenge the intestinal fortitude of the bulls, but charting the S&P 500 from March shows the bull market remains very much intact. 

"Many expect the volatility and market drops to bleed into October, and while it’s historically the stock market’s most volatile month, it’s also been one of the most bullish with plenty of upside to go with the down," he added.