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Stocks Close Lower Ahead of Debate     09/29 16:08

   Stocks ended with moderate losses Tuesday as investors waited for the first 
debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

   (AP) -- Stocks ended with moderate losses Tuesday as investors waited for 
the first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe 
Biden.

   Banks, energy companies and stocks that depend on consumer spending had some 
of the biggest losses. The price of oil fell 3.2%, dragging much of the energy 
sector down with it.

   Some technology stocks, which have long been the biggest driver of this 
year's stock market moves, posted gains. Advanced Micro Devices closed up 
nearly 3% and Facebook rose nearly 2%. Twitter closed up 1.3%.

   The Trump-Biden debate comes as coronavirus deaths worldwide crossed 1 
million. Cases in the U.S. are on the rise again as states attempt to reopen 
schools and factories. Tens of millions of Americans remain out of work.

   Investors remain uncertain whether the recovery that happened over the 
summer was sustainable, and whether the newest surge of cases will be as 
dramatic as the one in June. The uncertainty has been a big reason why stocks 
have struggled in September, after rallying the entire summer. The S&P 500 is 
on track to fall 4.7% this month, it's worst month since March when the stock 
market plunged sharply as the coronavirus pandemic spread to the U.S.

   "The market needs the economy to remain open," said Mark Hackett, chief of 
investment research at Nationwide. "We can handle bumpy economic data, but 
markets are not priced for the economy to shut back down."

   The S&P 500 index fell 16.13 points, or 0.5%, to 3,335.47, after rallying 
the day before. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 131.40 points, or 
0.5%, to 27,452.66 and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite lost 32.28 points, 
or 0.3%, to 11,085.25.

   Markets are watching the November election's impact on tax policy and how 
long it might take to determine the winner. The first presidential debate will 
likely make headlines, he said, but debates generally don't move the markets 
much.

   "It's going to get attention and rightfully so, but there's so much time and 
motion that's going to happen between now and November," he said.

   Investors' confidence has been supported by infusions of central bank 
support into struggling economies and hopes for development of a coronavirus 
vaccine.

   Congress still is arguing over the size of a new support package after 
additional unemployment benefits expired. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and 
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have agreed to hold another round of stimulus 
talks. However with the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 
Congress has redirected much of its attention to President Trump's nominee to 
replace her.

   "I certainly think the markets' weakness in the past couple of weeks is 
partially due to the fading hopes for a deal," Hackett said. "The market has 
largely come to terms with the low likelihood for a deal to get through."

   The last jobs report before the election will come out on Friday. The number 
is likely to be not only important for the market to determine whether 
re-openings are still moving forward, but politically important for both GOP 
and Democratic messaging heading into the election. Economists expect 850,000 
jobs were created in September, with an unemployment rate of 8.2%.

 
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