Market Overview

25 September 2020

A "Dream Team" of Mnuchin and Pelosi Renewed Stimulus Hopes as Supreme Court Appointment May Offset this Positive Vibe

All three major global market indexes including the broad market S&P 500 index, the high tech Nasdaq index and the industrial Dow Jones index, saw a slight drop after the opening bell on Thursday in course of the Wall Street's stock trading session to the renewed lows of September. However, prices just touched rather shallow levels. Shortly after the market quickly rebounded trying to gather more height for several hours in a row, probably encouraged by the words of Steve Mnuchin, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, and Nancy Pelosi, a Democratic leader and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Congress. By the end of the hard day, stocks dropped in their tracks again, though. But Asian hours on Friday whipped the market into the proper shape again, and now the price action continues to struggle. 

Steven Mnuchin said, he and Mrs Pelosi revived negotiations over a stalled coronavirus stimulus package. “I've probably spoken to Speaker Pelosi 15 or 20 times in the last few days on the CR [coronavirus relief bill] and we've agreed to continue to have discussions about the CARES Act,” Mnuchin told the Senate Banking Committee, referring to a continuing discussion of how to extend the government funding. Pelosi also said Thursday that she expected negotiations with the White House to resume shortly, telling reporters at the Capitol, that she will hopefully soon be at the table. 

There is a broad bipartisan support just for some components of another stimulus package. At least for now, Democrats are insisting  that the federal government approve enhanced unemployment benefits, while also sending another solid portion of direct payments to suffering American families, plus expanding housing and eviction protection measures. Republicans felt this would be an inappropriate and excessive burden for the enormous national debt while insisting on a more targeted package at least to help schools and children day care centres to reopen in order to bring more American parents back to work quickly. The White House is also anxious for the upgrading of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to aid small businesses and personal relief payments. 

“Let's pass things that we agree on quickly, and we can always come back and do more... It's less of the issue of what the absolute number is,” Mnuchin said a couple of weeks before when attempting to push a partial $500 billion package through the Senate. Nevertheless, Senate Democrats refused, and Sherrod Brown, the ranking Democrat on the Banking Committee, commented that the Senate offered "a paltry $500 billion plan" when "economists all over the country wanted three and four and five times that amount". "You and the president said you want something larger,” he said, while adding "why can't you get Senate Republicans to go along with a bigger number than the $500 billion package”. 

That was a deadlock situation, and today the New York Times wrote an article as if Pelosi’s wing is preparing a new reincarnation of a roughly $2.4 trillion stimulus plan under the growing pressure from moderate Democrats. The plan is described as providing pandemic aid to American families, restaurants and airlines before lawmakers leave Washington next week to campaign for a re-election. "Mrs. Pelosi privately told top Democrats that the House could vote on it anyway, which would allow anxious Democrats who have been quietly agitating for more action on a stimulus measure to at least register their support for additional relief," the New York Times wrote. “If necessary, we can formalise the request by voting on it on the House floor,” journalists cited Nancy Pelosi as saying to top Democrats in a private meeting on Thursday, according to a person familiar with the remarks who disclosed them on the condition of anonymity. 

Some rank-and-file lawmakers signalled that they may be ready to endorse a bipartisan framework worth as much as $2 trillion and others are eager to vote at least for a narrower bill for small-business loan programs. But the prospect is indefinite, whether the White House would approve a plan which is much larger than the $1.5 trillion. Even if Republicans do not support the legislation, “we should vote on it because there are Americans who need assistance," Stephanie Murphy, Democrat of Florida, told reporters on Thursday. Jobless claims continue to rise, airline industry executives are lobbying hard for more money to stave off widespread job cuts and restaurant owners are nervous about losing business when it becomes too cold to dine outside, so she is “hopeful that this will get Republicans to the table to deliver much-needed aid to the American people... shame on them if they can’t come to the table when we have consistently been working on a proposal to give much-needed resources out to the communities," Murphy said. 

Meanwhile, another bright woman from Florida, Barbara Lagoa, a 52-year-old conservative judge from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, appeared in the media spotlight as she is one of Trump's top contenders for the Supreme Court free vacancy instead of the iconic figure of Ruth Ginsburg, who advocated for women's rights and adhered more to the Democrats' agenda, but passed away last Friday. Donald Trump and Joe Biden are going stride for stride on election polls in Florida, which is traditionally considered by many in America as a key or swing state for the final result of the race. Trump's allies immediately advocated for the Miami-born judge, arguing her hometown could give them a campaign edge in Florida, where Lagoa carved out a history-making career as a jurist. Before, Barbara Lagoa served as the first Hispanic woman and the first Cuban American woman on the Supreme Court of Florida, and this fact may attract the Cuban origin part of the electorate. 

"Over 50 years ago, my parents, like so many others, came to this country from Cuba to start rebuilding their lives in a land that offered them opportunity, but more importantly, freedom," she said at the time of her appointment. "I know that the farthest thing from their minds when they arrived here with only the clothes on their back and their education was that their only child would be here standing today with the governor of Florida at an event like this today, especially since my father had to give up his dream of becoming a lawyer." "She's excellent. She's Hispanic. She's a terrific woman from everything I know," Trump told Fox News on Monday. "I don't know her. Florida. We love Florida," he told in a call-in interview with "Fox and Friends." Florida and North Carolina are vital to Trump’s prospects of re-election to a second term, and new Reuters/Ipsos polls show the races in the two states to be a dead heat. 

Florida, which Trump won by just over a percentage point in 2016, has become a heavy focus of both campaigns, and both candidates are trying to shore up support among Hispanic voters. As for Trump, he announced $13 billion in disaster aid for Puerto Rico, and is seen to be liked by Cuban-American voters by slapping new restrictions on trade with Cuba, banning U.S. citizens from bringing home rum or cigars from the Communist-run island and from staying at Cuban government-owned hotels. But Trump has another strong candidate and staunch supporter, also a woman, for the position of judge, and that is Amy Coney Barrett who was previously a law professor at the University of Notre Dam and now serves as a circuit judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. 

In fact, Trump has met both ladies, and will announce his decision over the weekend. Any outcome could anger his rivals. Reuters wrote that Donald Trump was "greeted with jeers and boos by a nearby crowd" on Thursday as he visited Ruth Ginsburg's casket beside the U.S. Supreme Court. Before the previous presidential election in 2016, Ruth Ginsburg criticized Donald Trump, calling him "a faker" in one interview, and Trump responded by writing that Ginsburg's "mind is shot" on Twitter. She later apologised by saying that she regretted the "ill-advised" comments. After her death, Trump has been respectful in his remarks about Ginsburg, but he has drawn criticism from Democrats for "not honouring her last wish", reported to have been dictated in a statement to her granddaughter, that she be replaced by the next president. Trump has already decided to move quickly on a replacement and announced he will tell publicly about his appointment this Saturday.

Thus, any decision made by Trump on the appointment to the Supreme Court may escalate the negotiations on the stimulus bill, and any public exchange of fair and foul could affect the markets too after the weekend. Therefore, it is likely that investors could be cautious before the weekend, and that the market would be dominated by a neutral mood at best, or the quotes of major stock indices and some shares may even continue a technical corrective movement to some slightly lower levels. If it carries on like this, then a partial capital flow to safe-haven assets like the U.S. Treasuries and Greenback cash is also a possible scenario for the end of the day.

 

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