NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks held near unchanged on Friday after strong gains this week as Democratic challenger Joe Biden edged closer to victory in the presidential election, while the monthly jobs report underlined the economic challenge facing America.
Biden extended narrow leads in Pennsylvania and Georgia, putting him on the verge of winning the White House, although President Donald Trump has filed lawsuits in battleground states to contest the results.
The three benchmark U.S. stock indexes were on track for their biggest weekly percentage gains since April as the prospect of a policy gridlock in Washington eased worries a Biden administration might tighten regulations on U.S. companies.
“It’s not fairytale land, we don’t go up every day so at some point you would think we would see a little bit of downward pressure,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago.
Control of the U.S. Senate could hinge on four as-yet undecided races. If Republicans retain their majority, they would likely block large parts of Biden’s legislative agenda, including expanding healthcare and fighting climate change.
“If that is not a split congress, let’s face it, that is one of the reasons we rallied this week – it has less to do with the stimulus and more to do with a long-term view,” Kinahan said.
The government’s closely watched report showed unemployment dropped sharply to 6.9% last month from 7.7% in September, but job recovery slowed as fiscal support waned and coronavirus cases surged.
After the jobs report, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said economic statistics indicated Congress should enact a smaller coronavirus stimulus package that is highly targeted at the pandemic’s effects.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 60.93 points, or 0.21%, to 28,329.25, the S&P 500 gained 1.27 points, or 0.04%, to 3,511.72 and the Nasdaq Composite added 15.86 points, or 0.13%, to 11,906.79.
Coty Inc surged 17.63% as the cosmetics maker beat analysts’ estimates for quarterly revenue, while T-Mobile US Inc gained 5.61%% after adding more phone subscribers than analysts had expected in the third quarter.
Electronic Arts Inc slumped 6.52% after the video game maker fell short of quarterly sales estimates.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.29-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.41-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 43 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 123 new highs and 24 new lows.
Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by David Gregorio