Dow surges nearly 500 points as Merck's experimental COVID drug delivers dose of optimism but stocks register weekly losses

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MARKET PULSE

U.S. stock indexes closed solidly higher Friday, with some of the upbeat mood on Wall Street to start October and the fourth quarter being attributed to an experimental COVID-19 pill from Merck & Co. that has shown in trials that it helps prevent high-risk people early in the course of the disease from becoming seriously ill and dying. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.4% to 34,326, with gains in Visa Microsoft Corp. Walt Disney & Co. and American Express Co. helping power the gains for the price-weighted index, along with Merck. The S&P 500 index rose 1.2% to 4,357, with energy shares surging 3.3% to lead the S&P 500’s 11 sectors to start the month where that sector ended September, on top. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed 0.8% higher at 14,566. For the week, however, the Nasdaq closed down 3.2% and the S&P 500 ended off 2.2% for their worst weekly declines since Feb. 26, while the Dow ended the week off 1.4% for the sharpest weekly slide since Sept. 10, FactSet data show. as investors displayed a little risk appetite, thinking a new page in the calendar might push the market past the issues that drove it down earlier in the week.

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