Dow futures pointed to an over 100-point gain at Friday's open as investors sought clarity around whether another round of coronavirus economic relief was still possible before next month's election. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed Thursday up 122 points or 0.4%, reaching its highest level in a month on stimulus hopes. The S&P 500 rose 0.8%. The Nasdaq increased 0.5%. Ahead of Friday trading, all three benchmarks were tracking for strong weekly gains. The Dow and S&P 500 were each about 3.8% away from their record highs on Feb. 12 and Sept. 2, respectively. The Nasdaq was about 5.3% away from its record Sept. 2 close.
The on-again, off-again Covid-19 stimulus negotiations are back. Rep. Nancy Pelosi's office said the House speaker and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke for 40 minutes Thursday on "whether there is any prospect of an imminent agreement on a comprehensive bill."
In a tweet after the market closed, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff also said Mnuchin made clear President Donald Trump's "interest in reaching such an agreement." That tweet came after Pelosi told reporters that she would not back aid to U.S. airlines without a broader stimulus package.
Trump said in an interview late Thursday that he may return to the campaign trail with a rally on Saturday after the White House physician said the president completed his course of Covid therapy and could resume public events. The president told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he was likely to take a coronavirus test Friday after announcing a week ago that he tested positive.
The fate of the final presidential debates remained uncertain after Trump rejected the idea of switching next Thursday's debate to virtual because of Trump's infection. The president agreed to an in-person Oct. 22 debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Trump also requested that the third debate be held Oct. 29, just days before the Nov. 3 election. Biden rejected squaring off that late in the campaign.
Gilead Sciences said late Thursday that final data showed its antiviral drug remdesivir cut coronavirus recovery time by five days compared with patients who got a placebo. That's one day faster than indicated in preliminary data. Remdesivir was among the Covid-19 treatments that Trump received. The FDA granted remdesivir emergency use authorization in May. Gilead shares rose 2% in Friday's premarket.
GenMark Diagnostics said Thursday the agency granted emergency use authorization for its rapid molecular test that can tell the difference between more than 20 viruses and bacteria, including the coronavirus. As flu season begins, distinguishing between influenza and Covid-19 becomes extremely important. GenMark shares jumped 14% in Friday's premarket.
Forecasts see Hurricane Delta on course to hit the U.S. Gulf Coast on Friday evening, around the same southwestern part of Louisiana that was ravaged when Hurricane Laura blasted ashore just six weeks ago. The question was whether Delta would remain at devastating Category 3 strength, with top winds of 129 mph, or drop just before landfall to a still dangerous Category 2 storm with winds 96 to 110 mph. As Delta churned north at 12 mph on Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center posted a hurricane warning from High Island, Texas, to Morgan City, Louisiana.
— Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow all the developments on Wall Street in real-time with CNBC's live markets blog. Get the latest on the pandemic with our coronavirus blog.