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  • US stocks climbed on Wednesday as investors digested a disorderly presidential debate that revived concerns of a disputed election result.
  • Premarket futures traded negative until Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that he expected to reach a stimulus deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. All three major US indexes opened in positive territory and gained through the day on renewed hopes for a compromise.
  • Still, the S&P 500 is on track for its first monthly loss since March.
  • On the economic data front, the September ADP report said US private firms added 749,000 payrolls last month, handily beating the median economist estimate of 649,000 payrolls.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US equities climbed on Wednesday, even as the chaotic presidential debate fueled concerns of a contested election result and fresh volatility.

Premarket futures traded negative until Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that he expected to reach a stimulus deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. All three major US indexes opened in positive territory and gained through the session on revived hopes for a near-term compromise.

Indexes also pared some premarket losses after a better-than-expected reading from the monthly ADP report. Private US companies added 749,000 payrolls in September, the company said. That came in above the median economist estimate of 649,000 payrolls, according to Bloomberg data.

Here’s where US indexes stood at 12:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday:

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The monthly ADP report serves as a precursor to the US government’s nonfarm-payrolls report on Friday. That release is expected to show that the unemployment rate fell to 8.2% from 8.4%. Economists also expect it to show 850,000 payroll additions in September.

The positive market open was a turnaround from declines in the futures market late Tuesday as President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden sparred on stage for the first time. The debate traded policy discussion for insult-tossing and interruptions, leaving some to wonder whether two more scheduled debates would still take place.

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Trump repeated claims that mail-in voting is fraudulent and stopped short of confirming that he would accept defeat should his opponent win in November. Several analysts have said a disputed election result would likely drive outsized market volatility and temporarily weigh on stocks.

“It’s hard to pick a winner, I think we’re all losers as far as that debate is concerned, but Biden went into the debate clearly ahead in the polls and I’d be amazed if last night changed anything,” Craig Erlam, a senior market analyst at Oanda Europe, said in a note. “I guess he technically wins by default.”

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Despite Wednesday’s gain, the S&P 500 is on pace for its first monthly decline since March. The index suffered throughout the month as investors balked at tech giants’ lofty valuations and secured profits made in the market’s summer rally.

Disney sank after announcing plans to lay off 28,000 workers in the company’s struggling resort business. It would be one of the largest layoffs during the coronavirus pandemic.

Micron fell as gloomy forward guidance overshadowed the chipmaker’s strong quarterly performance. Though the company nearly doubled its profit, investors dumped shares after Micron said it wasn’t sure when chip sales to Huawei could resume; Huawei’s purchases made up 10% of Micron’s fourth-quarter sales.

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Spot gold continued to flirt with the $1,900 threshold, sliding by 0.5%, to $1,888.16 per ounce. The precious metal has toyed with the key psychological level through the past week after losing the support in mid-September.

Oil dropped as concerns about a demand recovery continued to cloud the market. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 1.6%, to $38.68 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, fell 1.8%, to $40.30 per barrel, at intraday lows.

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