Market Waits for Fresh Stimulus

We start a new week of trading with the rather muted positivity we’ve experienced for the past few weeks. Both the Dow and S&P 500 are riding three-week winning streaks, while the Nasdaq has been up four straight. Q3 earnings season turns up the heat this week, with 80 S&P 500 stocks reporting. Netflix NFLX and Tesla TSLA are among the big names posting quarterly earnings this week.

There is still some hope a new stimulus bill might pass through Congress, though both sides know time is running out. The General Election is two weeks from tomorrow and, depending on the results, we might not see an opportunity for progress on stimulus until after the next presidential swearing-in ceremony in late January. The prospect of waiting another 10 weeks before pandemic aid can reach individuals ands small businesses cannot be seen as a favorable scenario to those already hurting financially.

So House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has set a “48-hour deadline” to get talks back underway for passage of a new stimulus package, though it’s tough to see how any self-imposed deadlines work in anyone’s favor at this stage. There are mixed messages coming from the other side, with President Trump oscillating from pulling all chips off the table to insisting a big deal be passed ASAP, to political posturing on both sides looking for ways to appear to be on the side of reason and responsibility this close to a major election. In short, there’s nothing concrete to establish any near-term package is forthcoming; should we be pleasantly surprised otherwise, that would be fine.

We’ll see in a couple weeks how much the earlier stimulus bill helped out the U.S. economy, when Q3 GDP numbers are released less than a week before the election. After a Q2 GDP that took all wind out of the sails, -32.4%, Q3 looks very strong, with estimates currently at +32.6%. This wouldn’t wipe out the losses experienced the previous quarter completely, but it would go a long way toward filling the hole. Analysts can argue how much this Q3 growth will have been supported by congressional stimulus, known as the CARES Act (which expired at the end of July), but they all likely agree having done nothing would have kept us economically submerged, historically.

China’s economy for Q3 reported up 4.9% overnight, which helped raise markets in Asia and then in Europe. These were mild gains in the global markets — and 4.9% GDP growth is below what analysts were expecting — but signs that China is building back its economy as a “leader” post-coronavirus pandemic shows a little light at the end of the tunnel. This is especially true now that Europe and the U.S. have begun to experience the expected “second wave” of coronavirus outbreaks, which threaten to affect not only the health of tens of thousands of citizens but the countries’ respective economies, as well.

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