Dow ends 140 points higher to claw back a slice of Wednesday’s rout on busiest day of earnings season

/ / News

Major U.S. stock benchmarks finished Thursday with solid gains, making up some lost ground from a three-session skid that has come five days before the Nov. 3 presidential and Congressional elections and as cases of COVID-19 have staged a resurgence, hinting at the possibility of a fresh outbreak heading into the fall and winter.

What happened: Investors started the day on edge but some skittish buying took hold as market participants parsed a surge in U.S. gross domestic product, which climbed by a 33.1% annual rate-recovering about two-thirds of the ground it lost at heart of the coronavirus pandemic. A tightening presidential election race was also partially blamed for Wednesday’s selloff. Democratic challenger Joe Biden’s continues to lead President Donald Trump in the polls, but the race has tightened and a survey released this week showed Trump moving ahead of Biden in Florida, a battleground state. Meanwhile, rising coronavirus cases in Europe and the US. have clouded the economic outlook.

The numbers: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the session with a 139 point gain, up 0.5%, to close at 26, 659, recovering a portion of the 943-point tumble from Wednesday. Apple Inc. , Chevron and Disney shares led gainers on a percentage basis. Walgreens Boots Alliance and UnitedHealth Group Inc. led losing shares on the Dow. The S&P 500 index closed up 1.2% at 3,310, after a 3.5% loss a day ago. The energy sector led the way higher, over 3%, while the health care sector led losses, off 0.5%. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed 1.6% higher, following its 3.7% fall on Wednesday, to end at 11,186.

All closing levels are on a preliminary basis.

What drove the market: Wall Street may look at Wednesday’s decline as an opportunity to tepidly dip into stocks that have been beaten down over the past several sessions. Moreover, investors also may not want to be caught flatfooted ahead of earnings from Facebook Inc. Apple Inc. , Amazon.com , Google parent Alphabet Inc. , a contingent of megacap companies known informally as FAANG, excluding Netflix , which reported its quarterly results last week.

Key asset: The ICE U.S. Dollar Index, a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was up 0.5%, contributing to a 1.2% weekly gain so far.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.