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* Pelosi seeks comprehensive stimulus deal
* Weekly jobless claims inch lower but remain elevated
* IBM jumps on infrastructure services unit’s spin-off plan
* Indexes up: Dow 0.4%, S&P 0.7%, Nasdaq 0.5% (Updates to late afternoon)
Oct 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks climbed on Thursday as comments by U.S. President Donald Trump fueled hopes of fresh fiscal aid, while data underscored the view that the labor market recovery was struggling to gain momentum.
Two days after calling off negotiations on a comprehensive bill, Trump said some discussions were ongoing with Democrats about boosting support for U.S. airlines and providing Americans with $1,200 stimulus checks.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said legislation to help airlines was a matter of national security and could only move through Congress with guarantees of work continuing on the comprehensive deal.
The Dow Jones airlines index was up 0.8%, extending recent gains.
“We’re clearly being pushed around by the prospect of getting further fiscal stimulus. That’s entirely the driver. It’s been going on since this summer,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.
“The market is just reacting to every utterance of where we stand on fiscal policy.”
Data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits drifted lower last week but signaled the labor market was making little headway in getting millions of people back on the job after being out of work due to COVID-19 disruptions.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 98.79 points, or 0.35%, to 28,402.25, the S&P 500 gained 24.39 points, or 0.71%, to 3,443.84 and the Nasdaq Composite added 53.95 points, or 0.47%, to 11,418.55.
Strategists say investors are focusing on stimulus while also beginning to digest the prospect of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden winning the Nov. 3 election.
Biden appeared to lead Trump among likely voters in Florida and the two were locked in a tight race in Arizona, according to Reuters/Ipsos opinion polls released on Wednesday.
International Business Machines Corp rose 5.4% after saying it was splitting itself into two public companies, capping its years-long effort to diversify away from its legacy businesses to focus on high-margin cloud computing.
Eaton Vance Corp surged 48.0% and was on course for its best day ever after Morgan Stanley agreed to buy the asset manager for about $7 billion in a cash-and-stock deal. Shares of Morgan Stanley gained 0.6%.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 3.56-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.91-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 58 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 111 new highs and 9 new lows. (Additional reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Maju Samuel and Cynthia Osterman)
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