Stock were mostly higher Wednesday as traders awaited final results of the Georgia Senate runoff elections, which will determine control of Congress and shape policy decisions for the coming years.
The major indices pared some gains intraday, however, after the U.S. Capitol was put under lockdown as protestors in support of President Donald Trump flooded the building Wednesday afternoon while lawmakers were in the process of debating President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory. Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington, D.C., ordered a citywide curfew from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday amid the escalating protests.
The Dow and S&P 500 each jumped more than 1% at session highs to hit record intraday levels, as bank stocks helped fuel the advances. The Nasdaq stayed under some pressure, as markets took the increasing odds of a Democratic sweep in the Georgia Senate races as a possible sign for more anti-trust action against Big Tech companies. U.S. crude oil prices held above $50 per barrel after breaking above that level for the first time since February 2020 on Tuesday, after Saudi Arabia unexpectedly agreed to cut oil output by one million barrels per day to help support languishing energy prices.
Democrat Raphael Warnock edged out incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler to win one of the two seats in the state, the Associated Press reported Wednesday morning. This would give Democrats 49 seats in the Senate to Republicans’ 50, with one seat still hanging in balance. The Georgia Senate race between incumbent Republican David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff remained too close to call as of Wednesday morning.
Ahead of the elections, strategists had largely taken hold of the notion that a Democratic sweep of both seats in Georgia would be a market negative event due to the implications for higher corporate taxes and bigger government spending. Oppenheimer predicted the S&P 500 could see a downdraft of as much as 10%. However, as trading played out Wednesday, some analysts noted that investors were instead fixating on the opportunity for more near-term fiscal stimulus in the event that Senate control swings to Democrats.
“It looks like Democrats are poised to pick-up two additional Senate seats, throwing them control of the Senate. We’d resist the temptation that sweeping changes are in the offing, given the razor thin majorities the Democrats now have,” Neil Dutta, Renaissance Macro Research’s head of U.S. economics, said in an email Wednesday. “Still, it is likely that additional COVID relief is coming. Democrats in Georgia had a simple message: $2,000 checks to households.”
“2021 GDP estimates, currently at just 4%, will continue to rise; the right tail is likely to come up as additional fiscal relief comes into play,” he added. “The Fed will resist changing its current policy guidance and will accommodate the improvement in the economy – passive easing. This should lift inflation expectations, help steepen the yield curve, and provide a tailwind to U.S. banks.”
Others also suggested markets’ fears over the outcome of the election may be overblown.
“Even if the Democrats win two seats, which would give them the Senate in a 50-50 tie, there are a couple of Democrats who are quite moderate — you’ve got Joe Manchin of West Virginia, you’ve got Jon Tester of Montana,” Greg Valliere, AGF chief U.S. policy strategist, told Yahoo Finance on Tuesday. “Those two moderate Democrats I think will not going along with everything the Democrats want if they control the Senate. So no matter how you slice it, I think you’re looking at a pretty centrist environment for the financial market.”
2:42 p.m. ET: Stocks cut gains as protests at the Capitol escalate, building put under lockdown
The three major indices cut gains Wednesday afternoon after protestors supporting President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol building and forced a lockdown of the facilities, while lawmakers were in the process of certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win of the Electoral College.
The Dow rose more than 450 points, or 1.5%, after rising as much as 2% earlier in the session. The Nasdaq erased gains and turned negative.
10:50 a.m. ET: Stocks push higher, Dow gains 450+ points as bank shares outperform
The three major indices rose Wednesday intraday, with the Dow extending advances and the Nasdaq pushing into positive territory. Shares of Caterpillar, Dow Inc., Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase led the Dow’s gain of more than 450 points, or 1.5%.
The financials sector outperformed strongly in the S&P 500 as bank shares rallied. The information technology sector lagged, however, as tech stocks still remained pressured.
10:00 a.m. ET: Factory orders top estimates in November
Orders of U.S.-made manufactured goods outpaced expectations in November, in the latest report underscoring the quickening recovery in the manufacturing sector.
Factory orders rose 1.0% in November after a 1.3% gain in October, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Consensus economists were looking for a 0.7% rise for the month, according to Bloomberg data.
The report came a day after the Institute for Supply Management reported that the manufacturing sector expanded at the fastest pace in two years in December. Goods-producing industries have been boosted recently as consumers shifted spending to goods from services amid the pandemic.
9:40 a.m. ET: NYSE says it will delist three Chinese telecom companies, after flip-flopping on decision
The New York Stock Exchange said on Wednesday that it will proceed with delisting China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, after reversing course on this decision earlier this week amid pressure from the Trump administration.
At the end of December, the NYSE initially announced it would delist these three companies in effort to comply with President Donald Trump’s executive order from November banning U.S. investment in companies that were said to support China’s military. However, the NYSE then reversed course several days later and said it would allow the companies to remain on the exchange.
The NYSE’s latest announcement to go ahead again with the delisting came after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly spoke with NYSE President Stacey Cunningham earlier this week, criticizing the decision to leave the companies listed.
9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks open lower
Here were the main moves in markets, as of 9:31 a.m. ET:
S&P 500 (^GSPC): -17.31 points (-0.46%) to 3,709.55
Dow (^DJI): -25.73 points (-0.08%) to 30,365.87
Nasdaq (^IXIC): -147.06 points (-1.15%) to 12,674.17
Crude (CL=F): -$0.02 (-0.02%) to $49.92 a barrel
Gold (GC=F): -$15.40 (-0.79%) to $1,939.00 per ounce
10-year Treasury (^TNX): +6.2 bps to yield 1.017%
8:37 a.m. ET: Moderna shares jump after EU authorizes its COVID-19 vaccine
Shares of Moderna (MRNA) rose more than 3% in early trading after the European Union’s drug regulators approved the company’s COVID-19 vaccine, making it the second available in the bloc. The EU recently approved the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech.
The EU has a deal with Moderna for 160 million doses of the vaccine, which are expected to be available in early 2021. The U.S. and Canada have already begun inoculating citizens with the Moderna vaccine.
8:30 a.m. ET: Private payrolls unexpectedly drop by 123,000 in December, in first decline since April
Employment in the private sector sank for the first time since April in December, according to ADP’s monthly private payrolls report, underscoring the labor market’s weakening Congress passed its latest fiscal stimulus package.
Private payrolls fell by 123,000 during the final month of 2020, following a revised increase of 304,000 jobs in November. Consensus economists expected to see 75,000 jobs come back in December, according to Bloomberg data.
The service-providing sector was hit hard again after a brief reprieve in recent months, as tighter lockdown measures came back into effect across the country starting in mid-November. Leisure and hospitality industries lost 58,000 payrolls in December, followed closely by trade and transportation industries with a decline of 50,000. Manufacturing industries also lost 21,000 private payrolls in December, unwinding some of the goods-producing sector’s recent recovery. The industries that did see net payroll gains during December – including business services and education and health services – posted only modest increases.
7:53 a.m. ET: Nasdaq sells off Wednesday morning, with Democratic sweep in Georgia ‘a clear negative for Big Tech’: Wedbush
Contracts on the Nasdaq came under the most pressure of the three major indices Wednesday morning, with the increasing odds of a Democratic sweep in Georgia weighing on the tech-heavy index, according to many analysts. Each of the FAANG stocks – Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX) and Alphabet (GOOGL) – were lower by more than 1.5% in early trading.
“To be blunt, its a clear negative for Big Tech as ultimately with a Senate now likely controlled by Democrats we would expect much more scrutiny and sharper teeth around FAANG names with potential (although still a low risk) legislative changes to current anti-trust laws now on the table,” Dan Ives of Wedbush wrote in a note Wednesday morning.
“While momentum for business model breakups of FAANG names have been gaining steam over the past few years within the Beltway and EU, it lacked any political strength to make significant changes outside of political grandstanding events,” he said. “This all changes now in the eyes of the Street with the risk of business model scrutiny from tech giants Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook now in a brighter spotlight, which adds more risk to the overall tech sector in our opinion.”
“We still believe with a slim majority that major legislative changes/breakups to Big Tech will find difficulty becoming a reality, however the risk of business model changes is now clearly in the conversation,” he added.
7:23 a.m. ET Wednesday: Stocks mixed as Georgia runoff results trickle in
Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:23 a.m. ET Wednesday:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,715.75, down 2.5 points or 0.07%
Dow futures (YM=F): 30,395.00, up 110 points or 0.36%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,623.00, down 170.5 point or 1.33%
Crude (CL=F): +$0.26 (+0.52%) to $50.19 a barrel
Gold (GC=F): -$5.20 (-0.27%) to $1,949.20 per ounce
10-year Treasury (^TNX): +5.9 bps to yield 1.013%
6:02 p.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures open flat
Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:02 p.m. ET Tuesday:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,715.5, down 2.75 points or 0.07%
Dow futures (YM=F): 30,265.00, down 20 points or 0.07%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,794.5, up 1 point or 0.01%