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Stocks mixed; COVID-19 vaccine trials to restart

U.S. investors went home on Friday in a cautious mood after the week ended without any sign of a deal on an economic stimulus package.

The Dow posted a modest loss on Friday, while there were minor gains for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

Longer term...Wall Street snapped a three-week winning streak.

Greg Hahn, chief investment officer, Winthrop Capital Management

"We think we're in a holding pattern. We think we have to see what happens with stimulus right now. I think portfolio managers are looking at getting portfolios in shape heading into the end of the year. So we're gonna start to see tax-loss harvesting, some positional trading. But in terms of of altering the portfolio with respect to stock selection right now, I think we just have to wait and see what stimulus looks like. It's been a good three weeks, though."

There were a number of earnings duds.

American Express missed third-quarter profit estimates. Its cardholders, who tend to skew more affluent, spent roughly 20 percent less over the past three months. Profits also took a hit from the $665 million AmEx set aside to cover card-spending that might go unpaid.

Shares of chipmaker Intel tumbled 10-1/2 percent. Wall Street frowned upon a quarterly sales mix that bent more towards less-profitable chips for cheaper laptops and slower government data center spending.

But in three bright spots....

Gilead Sciences rose after its antiviral drug Remdesivir became the first and only drug to get U.S. approval for treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19...

The FDA gave AztraZeneca the green light to restart late-stage clinical trials for an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. U.S. trials were halted for more than a month after a report of a serious neurological illness in a British participant...

And Johnson & Johnson says it has been cleared to resume its COVID-19 vaccine trials after it was briefly halted due to what it called a serious medical event.