Wall Street opens Q4 trading with gains

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Sept 30, 2021, in New York City. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US stock indices rose at the end of Friday's (Oct 1) trading to end a rocky week that saw the third quarter end on a sour note.

Traders began the first session of the month and the fourth quarter pleased with news of a possible Covid-19 treatment, although the drama in Washington over raising the US debt limit was viewed as curbing some enthusiasm.

The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 1.4 per cent higher at 34,326.46. The broad-based S&P 500 gained 1.2 per cent to hit 4,357.04.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.8 per cent to 14,566.70.

September is both the last month for the third quarter and a notoriously rocky stretch for trading, and the combination of inflation and Covid-19 fears as well as Washington gridlock caused the Dow and Nasdaq indices to post losses for the quarter and the S&P 500 to see only a small gain.

October's first session began with government data showing inflation creeping higher in August, but also very welcome news from Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics that a clinical trial of their oral antiviral prospect showed about a 50 per cent reduction in the risk of hospitalisation or death from Covid-19.

"This is something I think a lot of people and not just investors have been wanting is a cure for Covid," said Kim Forrest at Bokeh Capital Partners.

Congress had on Thursday evening approved a measure to prevent a shutdown by the US government, but it now has only weeks to agree to raise the country's debt limit or face a default on its debt payments.

Forrest said the session's gains would have been higher "if we didn't have those negative aspects of what's happening out there in Washington."

Among companies, General Motors finished up 0.8 per cent despite reporting a sharp drop in third-quarter US sales on Friday as the global semiconductor crunch depletes dealerships of autos amid still-strong consumer demand.

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