US shares closed higher on Thursday on hopes that the next stimulus package would be voted soon and would support the economy hit by the pandemic.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during her weekly news conference that there was visible progress in talks with the Trump administration and that she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were “just about there” in their negotiations. However, she admitted that the new relief package might come after the election.

Meanwhile, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow warned that there were “significant policy differences” that were hardly resolvable before the election.

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Pelosi and Mnuchin are negotiating a stimulus package worth about $2 trillion, which for Republicans is higher than they would have admitted given the budget deficit.

Elsewhere, the Labor Department said that the jobless claims fell last week more than expected to 787,000, though they maintain at a high level given that stimulus support has vanished.

Also, the National Association of Realtors said that US home sales jumped to a 14-year high last month, driven by low mortgage rates. Existing homes sales surged 9.4% to an annual rate of 6.54 million units in September, the highest since May 2006. Analysts expected an increase of 5% to 6.30 million units.

The economic updates and stimulus hopes have supported the three benchmark indexes, with the S&P 500 gaining 0.52%. Energy and financials were the best performers. The Dow added 0.54%, and Nasdaq rose 0.19%.

Still, US stock futures are now declining after the debate between Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden. The debate was more civilized this time but still contentious.

In individual corporate news, Gilead Sciences rose over 3% in after-hours trading after the US Food and Drug Administration green-lighted its antiviral drug remdesivir, which is used to treat COVID-19. Meanwhile, Moderna said it had concluded the enrollment of 30,000 volunteers in its late-stage trial of a coronavirus vaccine.

Intel shares slumped 10% in extended trading even as the company reported Q3 earnings that beat expectations. Investors reacted to the unexpected weakness in its data center business.

In Asia, stocks are mixed in early trading on Friday, as investors discuss the Trump-Biden debate and evaluate the optimism surrounding the US stimulus and COVID vaccines and treatment.

At the time of writing, China’s Shanghai Composite is down 0.75%, and the Shenzhen Component has tumbled 1.19%. Both indices opened higher.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 is up 0.25%. Japan’s key consumer prices indicator declined at a slower pace last month but still showed a drop for a sixth consecutive month.

South Korea’s KOSPI has gained 0.25%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is up 0.07%.

In Australia, the ASX 200 closed 0.11% lower.

European stocks will be mixed on Friday, but bears will likely dominate judging by the index futures.

In the commodity market, oil prices gained from the comments made by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who expressed his readiness to extend record production cuts in the wake of the pandemic. However, crude prices gave up their recent gains amid fears that the second wave would hurt demand. Both WTI and Brent have lost about 0.50% as of now. Prices are set to end the week slightly lower.

Gold is bullish despite a stronger greenback, as investors reacted to the latest debate between Trump and Biden, and amid the stimulus talks progress. The metal is up 0.04% to $1,905. Earlier today, Refinitiv Metals Research said that demand for gold from jewelers and central banks would remain lower next year compared to the pre-COVID period. Nevertheless, demand would be driven by investors who will hoard record amounts of bullion. The high prices of gold and the lockdowns have crashed the sales of jewelry in Asia, which was the biggest driver of the gold market.

In FX, the US dollar is ascending, recovering part of previous losses. The USD Index rose 0.13% to 93.082. Still, the greenback is set to end the week much lower after slumping on stimulus hopes.

EUR/USD is down 0.17% to 1.1795. However, USD/JPY is down 0.12% to 104.60, as the yen is attracting more investors amid the expected turbulent trade before the election.

The British pound is correcting after surging on Brexit optimism. GBP is down against both the USD and the euro. Meanwhile, British consumer sentiment fell in October by the most since the lockdown was introduced in March.

 

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