Dow books 373-point gain, Nasdaq marks 31st record and S&P 500 ends 1.7% from its all-time high as everything rallies

U.S. stocks ended at or near records Wednesday, with the S&P 500 finishing within a stone’s throw of its February all-time high and the Nasdaq Composite notching its 31st record high of 2020. Hope of further stimulus from the U.S. government to help out-of-work Americans was attributed to some of the upbeat trade on Wall street, even as some of the data have come in weaker than expected, setting the stage for a jobs report on Friday that may underscore that a rise in infections of COVID-19 stalled out some of the recent resurgence in business activity created by social-distancing measures to contain the virus. Payroll provider Automatic Data Processing Inc. also said only 167,000 private-sector jobs were created in July, far short of the 1.88 million forecast by economists polled by Econoday. However, a reading of services from the Institute for Supply Management service sector index jumped to a reading of 58.1 in July, beating expectations and signalling stronger economic growth. Deal activity also sparked some optimism as Teladoc Health Inc. and Livongo Health Inc. said Wednesday they have agreed to merge in a deal valued at $18.5 billion to create a company that can serve a spectrum of health needs, using virtual care. A nearly 9% surge in shares of Walt Disney Co. following its quarterly results, also helped to lift the Dow and the broader market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up about 373 points, or 1.4%, at 27,201, representing its highest closing level since June 8. The S&P 500 index finished 0.6% higher at around 3,328, putting the broad-market benchmark 1.71% off its Feb. 19 record high at 3,386.15, while the Nasdaq Composite Index closed up 0.5% to 10,992, briefly touching the psychologically round-number level at 11,000 intraday and marking another record finish. The tech-heavy index has closed higher six straight sessions. Gaines for equities also came as gold prices finished at a record near 2,050, based on futures for December delivery , highlighting some concerns about the pace of stock gains and the outsize sums that governments have doled out to limit the harm from the COVID-19 pandemic.








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