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US: Wall Street ends mixed as new aid deal remains elusive

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Wall Street ended Monday's trading session the way it started: mixed, with Nasdaq retreating again as investors eye uncertain data and an elusive deal on a new emergency spending package.

[NEW YORK] Wall Street ended Monday's trading session the way it started: mixed, with Nasdaq retreating again as investors eye uncertain data and an elusive deal on a new emergency spending package.

At the closing bell on the first trading session of the week, the tech-rich Nasdaq was down 0.4 per cent to 10,968.36, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.3 per cent to end at 27,791.44 and the broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.3 per cent to finish at 3,360.47.

The only data reports released Monday both offered information on the state of the pandemic-ravaged US jobs market, but one was from June, before Covid-19 cases began to resurge, taking the total past five million.

The other, the Conference Board's Employment Trends Index, showed a slight improvement in July but nonetheless confirmed the grim outlook.

The index is down 53.8 per cent from a year ago, and Gad Levanon, head of The Conference Board Labor Markets Institute, warned that in coming months "job growth will significantly put on the brakes, likely causing the national unemployment rate to remain in double-digit territory."

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What form a new spending package will take remained in doubt as the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress traded barbs and blaming each other for the failure to reach agreement.

President Donald Trump signed four executive orders over the weekend including one to defer payroll taxes, and another to provide US$400 in weekly unemployment benefits, US$100 of which will be paid by already cash-strapped states, to replace the US$600 weekly payments that expired at the end of July.

Senator Chuck Schumer, the lead Democrat in the upper house of Congress, called Trump's efforts "laughable," while Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called the Democratic proposal for aid to state and local governments "absurd."

But Peter Cardillo of Spartan Capital Securities told AFP: "The market is ignoring negative factors.

"It continues to move on higher on hopes of the recovery gaining traction."

McDonald's slipped 0.2 per cent after the company announced it was suing former CEO Steve Easterbrook to recover compensation after discovering he lied "and destroyed information" about relationships with three other employees, and gave stock worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to one of the employees.

Marriott International missed earnings expectations but still jumped 3.6 per cent on the upbeat outlook, while MGM Resorts surged nearly 14 per cent after announcing a US$1 billion investment.

But Kodak plunged 28 per cent after a US agency suspended a loan intended to support the former photo giant's launch of a new pharmaceutical venture following controversy that has surrounded its July 28 announcement about the US$765 million loan.

AFP

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