Stock Market Today: Stimulus' Siren Song Pulls the Bulls Along

Thursday's gains were driven by more positive language on stimulus negotiations, but an uncertain timeline kept those advances modest.

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

We're "just about there."

Those were the words House Speaker Nancy Pelosi used Thursday to describe COVID-19 relief negotiations with the White House, helping to spark some cautious optimism in stocks. However, Pelosi was circumspect about the timetable for crafting and passing new stimulus legislation once agreement is reached on the outline of a deal.

Also Thursday, the Labor Department said unemployment claims for last week finally fell below the 800,000 mark (to 787,000), providing ammunition for those in Washington who believe the economy can recover without additional spending.

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"While recent declines in continuing claims largely reflect the transition of unemployed individuals from state-level programs to the federal PEUC program, overall trends in claims still point to incremental improvement in labor markets," write Michael Gapen and Jonathan Millar of Barclays Investment Bank, adding that the release of California’s revised data allowed "for a clearer picture of recent trends."

Financial stocks including American Express (AXP (opens in new tab), +3.3%) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM (opens in new tab), +3.5%) were bid higher, the latter also generating excitement over its new payments service, QuickAccept, meant to take on the likes of PayPal (PYPL (opens in new tab)) and Square (SQ (opens in new tab)). Gains from the likes of Chevron (CVX (opens in new tab), +3.6%) and Boeing (BA (opens in new tab), +3.2%) also helped the Dow Jones Industrial Average finish up 0.5% to 28,363.

Other action in the stock market today:

  • The S&P 500 advanced 0.5% to 3,453.
  • The Nasdaq Composite improved by 0.5% to 28,363.
  • The Russell 2000 got a 1.6% jolt higher to 1,629.
  • Gilead Sciences (GILD (opens in new tab)) was up more than 3% in early post-market trading after the Food and Drug Administration approved its remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment. The FDA had previously granted the drug an emergency-use authorization.

Get Your Income In Order

We continue to stress the importance of viewing the market through a long-term lens right now. Stimulus might not be just around the bend, especially in the wake of improving jobs data.

Among the ways you can adjust your portfolio amid so much uncertainty is by making sure your income-generating allocation is delivering the goods.

Dividend Aristocrats – especially those trading at a bargain – are solid holdings for those prioritizing dividend safety. But as a group, their yields can be lacking – consider that the ProShares S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats ETF (NOBL) that invests in these dividend-growing phenoms yields a modest 2.2%. If you need more income than that, these 25 analyst favorites yielding between 3.3% and 8.2% might be more your speed.

And these 10 dividend-paying companies from across the bond can kill two birds with one stone: Not only do they deliver regular income checks, but they also provide important geographical diversification, which can sometimes help smooth out returns during times when U.S. stocks aren't at their best.

Kyle Woodley
Senior Investing Editor, Kiplinger.com

Kyle is senior investing editor for Kiplinger.com. As a writer and columnist, he also specializes in exchange-traded funds. He joined Kiplinger in September 2017 after spending six years at InvestorPlace.com, where he managed the editorial staff. His work has appeared in several outlets, including U.S. News & World Report and MSN Money, he has appeared as a guest on Fox Business Network and Money Radio, and he has been quoted in MarketWatch, Vice and Univision, among other outlets. He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, where he earned a BA in journalism.