US stocks edge higher despite stimulus stalemate, vaccine delays

Dimming prospects for a new stimulus package before the United States election continue to weigh on stocks.

Stalled stimulus talks and setbacks on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments continue to hamper sentiment on Wall Street [File: Mike Segar/Reuters]

The main stock indexes in the United States were holding to the plus side on Wednesday after partisan tensions between the White House and Democrats in Congress continued to impede the passage of a new round of coronavirus relief aid, and after another setback on the quest for a COVID-19 vaccine dragged markets lower on Tuesday,

In mid-morning trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up more than 72 points or a quarter of a percentage point at 28.752.30.

The S&P 500 – a gauge for the health of US retirement and college savings reports – was up 0.17 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.16 percent.

A compromise deal between the White House, Republicans and Democrats in Congress on another round of pandemic relief aid is proving elusive and the prospects for bipartisan deal being passed before the November 3 election are dimming.

With the political climate growing ever more acrimonious as election day nears, Senate Republicans also appear to be out of lockstep with Trump.

After pulling the plug on stimulus talks last week – only to do an about-face within hours and restart them – Trump tweeted on Tuesday: “STIMULUS! “Go big or go home!!!”

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that the Republican-led Senate would vote next week on a $500bn coronavirus aid bill, which Democrats already have rejected.

Investors, meanwhile, are warming up to the idea of a possible “blue wave” as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden maintains his lead in national polls.

Biden has promised

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