US stocks edge higher on vaccine hope, upbeat retail numbers

Investor spirits were running high after government figures showed that retail sales increased more than expected last month – signalling consumer spending, the engine of US growth, is accelerating.

Wall Street’s main stock indexes edged higher on Friday on coronavirus vaccine hopes and fresh numbers showing that retail sales got an unexpected boost last month [File: Mike Segar/Reuters]

The major stock indexes in the United States opened in the green on Friday on stronger-than-expected retail sales figures for September and renewed vaccine hopes after pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said it may apply for emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine by late November.

Minutes into the New York trading session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up more than 165 points or 0.58 percent at 28,659.41

The S&P 500 – a gauge for the health of US retirement and college savings reports – was up 0.44 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index was up 0.65 percent.

Investors are weighing the possibility of a Democratic “blue wave” victory in the November 3 US elections. If Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins the White House race and Democrats manage to gain control of both Senate and retain control of the House of Representatives, it would increase the chances that Biden’s ambitious spending plans would be enacted – injecting a massive stimulus into the US economy.

Meanwhile, negotiations between the administration of President Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress on a new round of virus relief aid for struggling US businesses and households remain deadlocked.

Trump said on Thursday he is willing to go higher than a $1.8 trillion package his administration floated to Democrats, but hopes are dimming that a deal will be done before the elections.

Trump and Biden will return to the campaign trail with visits to three

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