By Mischa Frankl-Duval
Stocks opened higher Monday, pointing to gains for major indexes
at the start of the week, as investors assessed the potential for
fresh stimulus packages and China's economic recovery.
The S&P 500 advanced 0.4%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq
Composite Index climbed 0.5% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average
U.S. stocks eked out muted gains last week as investors reckoned
with persistently high Covid-19 cases, uncertainty surrounding the
presidential election, and a tug of war over further fiscal
stimulus measures from Washington.
Markets have largely written off expectations that a major U.S.
government spending package is likely to be approved before Nov. 3.
But investors are continuing to monitor the progress of talks
between lawmakers and the White House, with the view that any
relief offered to households or businesses before the election
would be a bonus.
Over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the White
House it had until Tuesday to reach a deal with Democrats. If the
deadline passes without a deal, ongoing talks would be increasingly
unlikely to produce sweeping relief legislation worth trillions of
dollars within the next two weeks, her aide suggested. Mrs. Pelosi
and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke Saturday night, but a
number of differences remain.
"It does feel like U.S. politicians are getting their heads
together in a more constructive way in terms of fiscal stimulus,"
said Altaf Kassam, head of investment strategy for Europe, the
Middle East and Africa at State Street Global Advisors. A fiscal
stimulus package isn't urgently needed, but "if they can get a
multipartite agreement across the line before the election, that
would be huge."
With Covid-19 continuing to spread, further fiscal stimulus will
be necessary to support the economy, said Robert McAdie, chief
cross-asset strategist at BNP Paribas.
"Without renewed fiscal stimulus you'll see a new wave of
unemployment, and a new wave of delinquencies and defaults, and
that will certainly weigh on growth" he said.
Chinese officials said Monday that gross domestic product
expanded by 4.9% in the third quarter from a year earlier, putting
China's economy back toward its pre-coronavirus trajectory half a
year after the pandemic gutted its economy. Other economic
indicators released Monday offered additional signs of strength:
China's headline unemployment figure, the urban surveyed jobless
rate, fell to 5.4% in September.
"If you are looking at the consumer numbers, the manufacturing
numbers, they're still very strong coming out of China," Mr. Kassam
said. "That's starting us off on a positive tone, and we think
that's a theme that's going to continue."
Investors in China and Hong Kong had a mixed reaction to the
latest economic data, as the 4.9% growth figure for the third
quarter fell short of expectations. The Shanghai Composite Index
closed down 0.7%, reversing early gains of more than 1%. Hong
Kong's Hang Seng Index pared gains to end the day 0.6% higher.
Iris Pang, chief economist for Greater China at ING Bank NV in
Hong Kong, said the latest data was quite good and the market has
overreacted based simply on the headline growth numbers. "They
haven't digested the whole report," she said.
Many of the concerns regarding U.S. political uncertainty have
also receded recently, investors said.
"It does look like a contested election is less of a possibility
going forward," said Mr. Kassam, while cautioning that the polls
and betting markets were wrong four years ago. "The worst outcome
of the U.S. election for markets would have been a contested,
The U.S. corporate earnings season will pick up pace this week,
with Netflix, Tesla and AT&T among the major companies
reporting in the coming days.
Shares of Texas shale driller Concho Resources rose 2.7%
premarket on news ConocoPhillips would acquire the company in a
$9.7 billion all-stock deal.
American Equity Investment Life Holding shares dropped 9.4% in
offhours trading. The company on Sunday rejected a takeover offer
by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance and Athene Holding, and said
it instead reached a partnership with Brookfield Asset
Shares of oil-field services company Halliburton fell 1%
premarket after it reported a third-quarter loss of $17 million,
down from a profit of $295 million in the year-earlier quarter.
Technology giant International Business Machines will report after
the market closes.
Shares in Front Yard Residential jumped 35% after the U.S.
Virgin Islands-based real-estate investment trust said it had
agreed to be acquired by a group led by investment firm Pretium
Partners LLC and funds managed by Ares Management Corp. in a deal
worth about $2.4 billion.
"It's going to be all about the guidance, and the guidance has
largely been better than expected, certainly in the U.S.," said
Andrew Cole, head of multi asset in London at Pictet Asset
Management. "Everybody knows earnings this year are going to be
pretty horrid from a year-on-year perspective, so when we start to
think about earnings, it's increasingly 2021 that matters," he
The yield on 10-year Treasury notes ticked up to 0.766%, from
0.743% Friday. The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the currency
against a basket of others, edged down 0.4%.
The main gauge for U.S. crude-oil futures slid 0.2% to $41.02 a
Overseas, the Stoxx Europe 600 edged down 0.1%. Euronext NV,
which operates exchanges across Europe, said it had resolved a
technical issue that had halted trading in some markets.
Chong Koh Ping
contributed to this article.
Write to Mischa Frankl-Duval at Mischa.Frankl-Duval@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 19, 2020 09:50 ET (13:50 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.