US stocks edge higher, eyeing possible stimulus push

People walk along Wall Street in New York City on Sept 21, 2020.
People walk along Wall Street in New York City on Sept 21, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished modestly higher on Thursday (Sept 24) following a choppy session as investors weighed mixed economic data with an effort on Capitol Hill to revive stimulus talks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.2 per cent to 26,815.44.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.3 per cent to 3,246.59, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.4 per cent to 10,672.27.

Markets got a lift midday on news that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moved to assemble a new spending Bill to boost the US economy. Reports said Pelosi is eyeing a US$2.4 trillion (S$3.3 trillion) Bill, still much bigger than the package that Republicans have favoured.

Earlier, the Labour Department said US jobless claims last week rose slightly to 870,000 as the world's biggest economy continues to face headwinds following the upheaval of the coronavirus pandemic.

On the positive side, new US home sales came in well above forecasts in August with a 4.8 per cent gain, as the housing market continues to recover.

Markets are also eyeing the latest on the coronavirus following case spikes in France and some other European countries that have revived fears of broader restrictions on economic activity.

"As long as cases keep growing, there's no reason to think this won't keep being a choppy market," said a note from TD Ameritrade's JJ Kinahan.

"Coronavirus overshadows everything right now. There's no end date for that."