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Dow Ends Gently Higher on Stimulus Skepticism; Tech Jumps

Stocks finish in positive territory as Wall Street monitors lawmakers' efforts to craft a fifth coronavirus aid package.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed gently higher Thursday as Wall Street monitored lawmakers' efforts on crafting the fifth coronavirus aid package.

The Dow rose 35 points, or 0.13%, to close at 27,816, after turning lower in afternoon trading. At its highs for the session, the index gained about 260 points, or 0.9%. The S&P 500 added 0.53% and the Nasdaq jumped 1.42%.

A number of major chipmakers and equipment producers were strongly in the green on Thursday. NXP Semiconductors  (NXPI) - Get NXP Semiconductors N.V. Report rose 5%, Skyworks  (SWKS) - Get Skyworks Solutions Inc. Report added 4.5%, Microchip Technology  (MCHP) - Get Microchip Technology Incorporated Report tacked on 4.2%, and Advanced Micro Devices  (AMD) - Get Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Report and ASML Holding  (ASML) - Get ASML Holding N.V. Report both moved up 3.5%.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “made a lot of progress in a lot of areas” in talks they held Wednesday. Pelosi said on Thursday, however, that she was skeptical they'd be able to reach a deal.

“This isn’t half a loaf. What they’re offering is the heel of the loaf,” Pelosi told Bloomberg TV. “It’s no use going into a negotiation just saying you’ll take the path of least resistance.”

Weekly jobless claims in the U.S. came in at 837,000, slightly lower than economists' forecasts. However, the number of Americans applying for first-time jobless benefits held steady for a fifth straight week, a sign that the summer rebound in the labor market spurred by the reopening of businesses could be starting to fade.

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The official U.S. jobs report for September will be released Friday.

U.S. manufacturing in September expanded less than expected. The Institute for Supply Management's index of national factory activity fell to 55.4 in September from 56 in August.

American Airlines  (AAL) - Get American Airlines Group Inc. Report said it would begin furloughing 19,000 employees and United Airlines  (UAL) - Get United Airlines Holdings Inc. Report will lay off 13,000 workers after federal aid for the industry expired. The airlines said, however, they would reverse the cuts if the U.S. government provided the funds the industry needs over the next few days.

Stocks rose Wednesday but in September they posted their first monthly losses since March. They ended the third quarter higher. The Dow rose 7.6%, the S&P 500 gained 8.5%, and the Nasdaq surged 11% over the past three months.

PepsiCo  (PEP) - Get PepsiCo Inc. Report reported stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings and forecast solid full-year profit as snack sales during the pandemic continued to pace top-line growth. The stock finished 1.6% higher at $140.80.

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