Markets Rise Despite the Chaos in Washington: Live Business Updates


Protesters stormed the Capitol building in Washington on Wednesday. 
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
  • Global stocks mainly rose on Thursday despite the previous day’s chaos in Washington, when a pro-Trump mob overran the U.S. Capitol building, forcing lawmakers to go into hiding and stirring international outrage and concern.

  • S&P 500 futures are pointing to gains when trading starts on Wall Street later Thursday morning. European stock indexes were moderately higher, with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.2 percent and the German DAX index 0.4 percent higher. Most Asian indexes closed higher.

  • Even while scenes of guns drawn in the halls of Congress were unfolding Wednesday afternoon, the S&P 500 was able to hold onto its gains, closing 0.6 percent higher. Overall, it was another example of stock markets appearing divorced from reality — see last year’s double-digit gains on Wall Street while a pandemic smothered global economies.

  • Democratic control of the U.S. Senate — made possible by the results of two Senate runoff elections in Georgia this week — is expected make it easier for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to pass stimulus measures to bolster the economy. Investors are also banking on the rollout of coronavirus vaccines to eventually energize business activity that has been dormant during the pandemic.

  • “The markets paid very little attention to the riotous behavior in Washington,” ING analysts wrote in a note. Instead, investors have sustained an interest in riskier assets, such as stocks, set off by the Democrats’ success in Georgia.

  • Treasury bond yields continued to rise, lifted by expectations that additional fiscal spending in Washington will generate more bond issues, reaching as high as 1.06 percent on 10-year notes. The yield climbed above 1 percent this week for the first time since March.

  • Economists at Goldman Sachs said they expected Democrats to pass $750 billion in fiscal stimulus in the first quarter of the year now that they have control of the Senate. The U.S. investment bank also raised its forecast for economic growth this year to 6.4 percent from 5.9 percent.

  • Oil was holding on to an 11-month high, after Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday it would cut oil production. The U.S. crude benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, up 0.6 percent for the day, hit $51.28 a barrel before slipping a bit, while Brent crude reached $54.90.

When Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, issued a statement condemning the violence in Washington on Wednesday, he urged “our elected leaders” to call for an end to it. He did not directly mention President Trump.

Nor did the Charles Scharf, the chief executive of Wells Fargo (“The behavior in Washington, D.C., today is unacceptable”) or the chief executives of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America or Citigroup. Business leaders and organizations often instead referred to “leaders” or called for “the peaceful transition of power” to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Business leaders have rarely criticized Mr. Trump directly. When he announced, shortly before he was inaugurated, that Stephen K. Bannon would be his chief strategist in the White House, Democrats on the congressional committees that oversee the finance industry asked industry leaders to publicly oppose the appointment. The lawmakers called Mr. Bannon a “bigot beloved by white supremacists” and said the business leaders had “a moral obligation to speak out.”

None did.

After Mr. Trump took office, chief executives found themselves in the uncomfortable position of deciding whether to take part in so-called business advisory councils, common forums for business leaders to influence the policy of a new president, even as he was rolling out policies many saw as hateful. Several such councils disbanded after Mr. Trump declined in 2017 to condemn violence by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., and said there were “very fine people” and “blame” on “both sides.”

With the president’s increasing efforts to subvert the election, organizations have grown bolder. On Monday, for example, 170 business leaders signed their names to a statement, organized by the business advocacy organization Partnership for New York City, urging Congress to certify the result of the presidential election, though some prominent members were missing.

On Wednesday, as a mob stormed the Capitol, organizations not known for vocal statements seemed to no longer worry about the political ramifications of speaking up against Mr. Trump.

The research group High Frequency Economics suspended regular publication of its research notes for the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and sent a note to its clients: “We at High Frequency Economics are disgusted by the role of the president of the United States in inciting this riot, and we are saddened that he cannot find the character to stand up in front of the mob he has created, quell the violence and send everyone home.”

And the Business Roundtable, a group of chief executives, including Mr. Dimon, from some of the nation’s largest companies, was direct as to the cause of the violence.

“The chaos unfolding in the nation’s capital is the result of unlawful efforts to overturn the legitimate results of a democratic election,” the group said. “The country deserves better. Business Roundtable calls on the president and all relevant officials to put an end to the chaos and to facilitate the peaceful transition of power.”

The Royal Divinity Food Bank in Birmingham, Ala., says it has been feeding hundreds more families each month since the pandemic began. The job market has improved, but millions remain unemployed.
Credit…Audra Melton for The New York Times

The Labor Department is scheduled to serve up new evidence about the extent of joblessness across the country Thursday morning when it releases its weekly report on unemployment claims.

Initial claims for benefits have remained at levels unseen in previous recessions, and analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expect an increase from last week’s report.

“Google search trends show an upward trend in terms like ‘file for unemployment’ that continued into this week,” said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at the online job site ZipRecruiter.

“The virus is still spreading, hospitalizations have hit a new record, and there is a pullback in demand for certain services,” Ms. Pollak said. “A lot of stay-at-home orders and restrictions are causing a further decline. You see a downturn everywhere in the restaurant data.”

Before adjustments for seasonal variations, new state claims for unemployment benefits have been above 800,000 in each of the last four weekly reports.

The labor market has improved since the coronavirus pandemic broke out and closed down the economy. But of the more than 22 million jobs that disappeared in the spring, 10 million remain lost.

“Employers are very cautious about rehiring at the same time they have had to increase layoffs,” said Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial economist at Oxford Economics. “The resurgence of the virus is really the main culprit here.”

“It’s worth noting that since August, payrolls gains have been getting progressively smaller,” Ms. Bostjancic said.

With a recently enacted $900 billion relief package that includes an extension of federal unemployment benefits, most of the jobless can at least look forward to more financial help.

A fuller picture of December employment will come Friday when the Labor Department releases its monthly jobs report, and most analysts are expecting minor payroll gains — or even the first net loss since April.



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