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US stock markets end week on a high, Merck rallies on COVID treatment

US stock markets overcame a turn in sentiment during the week to post another strong day on Friday, the Dow Jones jumping 1.4%.

Merck’s COVID treatment

The biggest driver was drug company Merck (NYSE: MRK) announcing the results of trials of its COVID-19 treatment.

Rather than a vaccine, the pill can be taken by those with the virus and was shown to reduce the risk of hospitalisation and severe illness by 50%, according to the company.

Merck shares rallied 8.45%, lifting the opening trade including smaller companies up another 1.7%.

The S&P 500 also benefitted, adding 1.2% and the Nasdaq comparatively weaker at a 0.8% gain.

This wasn’t enough to overcome a volatile weak as traders sent all three benchmarks down between 1% and 3%.

On Friday, shares in Visa (NYSE: V) jumped on hopes of higher spending, up 3.5%, with Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) and American Express (NYSE: AXP) also following suit, up 4.0% and 3.8%, respectively.

Consumer spending jumps

More positive news came from the US PMI which moved above 61 points showing the manufacturing sector is booming, whilst consumer spending jumped 0.8% in September. Consumers are clearly starting to grow in confidence.

US stock market movers

Here’s how other popular US stocks closed out the week on Friday.

  • Toast (NYSE: TOST) up 7.2%
  • Uber (NYSE: UBER) up 5.0%
  • Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) up 2.6%
  • Upstart (NASDAQ: UPST) down 5.6%
  • Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) down 11.4%
  • Guardant Health (NASDAQ: GH) down 14.0%

Back home on the ASX, the S&P/ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) is set to follow US markets higher at the open on Monday. For all the latest, check out my ASX 200 morning report.

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Disclosure: At the time of publishing, Drew owns shares in Disney.

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Wattle Partners is a financial advice firm, servicing clients around Australia, specialising in retirement planning (pre and post retirement). 

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