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Oct. 1, 2021, 9:37 a.m. EDT

Dow jumps more than 250 points to start trade in October, 4th quarter on optimism from Merck's experimental COVID drug

U.S. stock benchmarks rose Friday morning to kick off the start of a new quarter and month, following heavy selling that closed a bruising September for investors. Some observers were attributing the more optimistic tone at the end of the week to news that Merck's experimental antiviral drug, developed as a treatment for COVID-19 with partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, reduced the risk of hospitalization or death in at risk adult patients with mild-to-moderate COVID by about 50% in an interim analysis of data from a Phase 3 trial. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DOW:DJIA) gained nearly 260 points, or 0.7%, to 34,092, the S&P 500 index (S&P:SPX) climbed 0.3% at 4,321, while the Nasdaq Composite Index (NASDAQ:COMP) rose less than 0.1% at 14,459.

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