Dow, S&P 500 close higher on stimulus hopes, Nasdaq down

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on March 20, 2020.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on March 20, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street had another rare positive session on Wednesday (March 25), with key indices posting their second consecutive day of gains amid expectations government stimulus to fight the coronavirus outbreak is coming soon.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which had been falling steadily in recent weeks, rose 2.4 per cent to end at 21,200.55, after Tuesday's 11.4 per cent surge which was the best single-day performance since 1933.

The S&P 500 also gained 1.2 per cent to close at 2,475.56, but the Nasdaq slipped late in the day, losing 0.5 per cent to finish at 7,384.30.

The White House and Senate early in the day announced an agreement on a US$2 trillion (S$2.9 trillion) economic rescue package to bolster the US economy and help millions of Americans put out of work with businesses shuttered due to the coronavirus outbreak.

However by the close of trading, the chamber still had not voted on the proposal, and key lawmakers in both the Democrat and Republican parties continued to voice objections to various measures included in the Bill.

The trading session nonetheless reflected the hope that help was on the way, welcome news after weeks that saw markets hammered by the outbreak's economic fallout.

"The market's momentum continues," JJ Kinahan of TD Ameritrade told AFP.

"It's wonderful to see a big uptick and the market needed it."

However, he was not ready to call an end to the crisis, saying the trading range needs to stabilise before that happens.

Though it was up for most of the day, the Nasdaq began falling towards the close with key tech stocks Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet weighing it down.

But Boeing rallied for its second day, climbing 24.3 per cent as reports emerged that Congress would include US$17 billion loans for the troubled planemaker.

Another bright spot was Nike, one of many retailers whose global business has been hammered by the coronavirus outbreak but is helped by healthy online sales, according to the quarterly earnings report released Tuesday. The share price rose by 9.2 per cent.