Despite little major economic news, stocks finished out a pretty remarkable week on Friday, with the S&P 500 notching its biggest weekly gains since July. The benchmark index ended with 3.8% gains in the first full trading week of October.
Wall Street's focus was chiefly on three issues over that time, all connected to politics: the improving health of President Donald Trump, the increasingly likely outcome of a clear winner to November's presidential election and the improving prospects for another major stimulus package.
The ever-evolving stimulus watch was the central issue on Friday, as reports that the White House was preparing a $1.8 trillion package -- not quite the $2.2 trillion House Democrats wanted, but progress nonetheless -- signaled the two sides of the aisle were coming closer together.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 161 points, or 0.6%, to finish at 28,586 on Friday.
The big get bigger. Unless the last quarter of 2020 brings the same degree of unexpected catalysts that defined the first quarter, this will go down as a year in which the semiconductor industry consolidated in a major way.
Advanced Micro Devices (ticker: AMD) is reportedly in talks to acquire Xilinx ( XLNX) in a deal that could top $30 billion. AMD, which has a market valuation around $100 billion after a huge run-up in shares this year, saw profits more than quadruple year over year last quarter.
Nvidia Corp. ( NVDA), which overcame Intel Corp. ( INTC) to become the world's most valuable chipmaker in 2020, agreed to a record-setting $40 billion deal to acquire chip designer Arm Holdings just last month.
XLNX finished as the best-performing stock in the S&P 500 on Friday, adding 14.1% on the reports. AMD stock lost 3.9% on the day.
Microsoft embraces working from home. It's by no means surprising that much of the Microsoft Corp. ( MSFT) workforce is currently working remotely, but a new report from the Verge reveals the company is changing the way it works over the longer term, too.
The company is allowing managers to approve permanent remote work for its employees, even after the end of the pandemic -- the latest major tech company to make huge changes to its de facto employment policies.
MSFT stock finished 2.5% higher on Friday.