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The Associated Press

Shares were mostly higher on Friday, led by energy companies, ending one of the worst weeks for financial markets in months.

The S&P 500 Index was barely higher, up 0.1%, at 10:05 am Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4%, led by higher energy companies like ExxonMobil which heavily influence this index. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.3%.

Merck jumped 9% after the drugmaker released a study that showed its experimental pill to treat COVID-19 halved hospitalizations and deaths among people recently infected with the virus. So far, there have been only limited proven treatments for the virus, including monoclonal antibody therapy which is expensive and more difficult to make than a pill.

September was the worst month for the S&P 500 since March 2020, when the pandemic first took hold in the United States and around the world. Investors have grown nervous in recent weeks as COVID-19 infections continue to spread across the country as well as political unrest in Washington, where Democrats appear no closer to addressing issues such as infrastructure, social spending and the debt ceiling.

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