Stock Market Today: Stocks Stay Aloft as Congress Nears Stopgap Deal

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A rally that started Wednesday afternoon continued throughout Thursday’s session as Congress appeared poised to kick the debt-ceiling can down the road.

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Yesterday’s buying was sparked by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s offer for Republicans to allow a short-term lift of the federal borrowing limit. Democrats mulled the deal overnight, and this morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that “we have reached agreement to extend the debt ceiling through early December, and it’s our hope that we can get this done as soon as today.”

Investors should note, however, that as of publication, Senate Republicans had not yet secured the 10 votes necessary to get past a filibuster.

Also buoying spirits was an unexpectedly sharp drop in initial jobless claims, to 326,000 for the week ended Oct. 2, down from 364,000 and below estimates for 348,000.

Consumer discretionaries (+1.6%) were hot, topping the market’s other sectors thanks to robust gains from the likes of Ford (F, +5.6%), General Motors (GM, +4.8%) and Nike (NKE, +2.0%).

The major indexes closed Thursday with similar gains: The Dow Jones Industrial Average improved 1.0% to 34,754, the S&P 500 finished up 0.8% to 4,399, and the Nasdaq Composite rose 1.1% to 14,654.

This report will be updated.

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