Stocks clawed higher Friday as existing home sales spiked by the most on record and the 2020 election cycle kicked into high gear with former Vice President Joe Biden accepting the Democratic nomination to run against President Trump.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 81 points, or 0.29% while the S&P 500  and the Nasdaq Composite were up by 0.1% and 0.27%, respectively.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES27844.45+104.72+0.38%SP500S&P 5003389.78+4.27+0.13%I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX11287.68386+22.73+0.20%

Biden laid out his vision for America in a speech on Thursday evening, slamming Trump for his handling of COVID-19, which has killed more people in the U.S. than any other country, and promising to bring light to a “season of darkness.”

Trump will make his case for reelection next week when the Republican National Convention kicks off on Monday.

In economic data, existing home sales surged 24.7% month-over-month in July to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5.86 million, outpacing the 5.38 million that analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting. Manufacturing and services numbers also topped forecasts.

Looking at stocks, Tesla Inc. was driving into record territory in the final trading day for investors to buy shares and be eligible for the upcoming 5-for-1 stock split at the close of business on Aug. 28. The electric-car maker finished Thursday with a $373 billion market capitalization, bigger than Walmart.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %TSLATESLA INC.2,082.99+81.16+4.05%PFEPFIZER INC.38.86+0.14+0.36%BNTXBIONTECH71.83+5.55+8.38%

BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc. shared positive early data from the Phase 3 trial of their experimental COVID-19 vaccine, noting that fewer than 20% of participants experienced a mild to moderate fever.

General Electric Co. extended CEO Larry Culp’s contract through August 2024. Culp replaced former CEO John Flannery, who had served for a little more than a year, in October 2018.

Shares of Deere & Co. hit record highs after the heavy-equipment manufacturer raised its full-year profit forecast. Both earnings and revenue were ahead of expectations.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %GEGENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY6.26-0.01-0.11%DEDEERE & COMPANY201.55+10.45+5.47%FLFOOT LOCKER27.57+0.38+1.40%

Sneaker retailer Foot Locker Inc. reported better-than-expected top- and bottom-line results and reinstated its 15-cent quarterly dividend after navigating COVID-19 and the social unrest that followed the death of George Floyd.

Ross Stores Inc. said sales in the three months through June fell 33% from a year earlier, outpacing estimates, as the discount retailer began a phased reopening of its stores on May 14.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %ROSTROSS STORES INC.87.70+0.24+0.28%

Looking at commodities, gold slid $13.60 to $1,932.90 an ounce while West Texas Intermediate crude oil dropped 91 cents to $41.91 per barrel.

U.S. Treasurys ticked lower, causing the yield on the 10-year note to rise by 1 basis point to 0.654%.


In Europe, Germany's DAX led markets lower with a drop of 0.87%, while France’s CAC and Britain’s FTSE were weaker by 0.76% and 0.53%, respectively.

Markets closed higher across Asia with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng adding 1.3%, China’s Shanghai Composite climbing 0.5% and Japan’s Nikkei edging up 0.17%.

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