Investors hit pause on the markets rally as the nail-biter vote count drags on

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Happy Friday, Bull Sheeters. Take a breather. The markets certainly have. The “relief rally,” the “Biden bounce,” the glee over gridlock—whatever you want to call it—is on pause after stellar markets gains the past few days.

The vote count—of course we’re heading right there—continues to show a tightening race in Georgia (Biden up 917 votes, as I type) and Pennsylvania (Trump up 18,229 votes). The moment Georgia went blue, shortly before 4:30 a.m. Atlanta time, U.S. futures bounced off their lows.

Let’s check in on the action.

Markets update

Asia

  • The major Asia indexes are mixed in afternoon trading with Japan’s Nikkei up 0.9%.
  • President Xi Jinping has delivered his longterm economic outlook, saying the Chinese economy should double by 2035. What’s raising eyebrows is that projection would imply a sub-5% annual growth rate, below the country’s 30-year performance.
  • Shares in Alibaba were one of the few tech laggards in the U.S. yesterday, falling 2.7% on Thursday. After the Ant Group IPO debacle, the e-commerce giant reported disappointing sales last quarter.

Europe

  • The European bourses were lower at the open, with the Europe Stoxx 600 down 0.6% in mid-morning trading.
  • The European Commission released on Thursday its latest GDP forecast, and it’s a mixed bag. The 2020 outlook is slightly better than first thought, but the latest round of COVID lockdowns will dent the eurozone economy in 2021.
  • Europe’s banks may have surprised on the up-side this reporting season, but that doesn’t mean jobs are safe. A trio of banks—Banco Santander, Lloyds Banking Group and ING Groep—have announced cuts, bringing global banking layoffs to more than 75,000 this year, Bloomberg calculates.

U.S.

  • U.S. futures are down this morning, but have rebounded sharply following the Georgia vote-count development. On Thursday, the Dow, S&P and Nasdaq soared again, led by mega-cap tech stocks.
  • Shares in Visa closed up 2% even after the U.S. Justice Department announced it would sue to block Visa’s $5.3 billion acquisition of digital transactions specialist Plaid.
  • Uber has been on a post-election tear since its Prop 22 ballot victory on Tuesday. But shares in the ride-hailing firm are falling, down 2%, in pre-market trading after it reported a big top-line miss last quarter.

Elsewhere

  • Gold is gaining, with the shiny metal topping $1,940/ounce.
  • The dollar is flat.
  • Crude is down with Brent now trading just above $40/barrel.
  • Bitcoin jumped another 8.5% in the past 24 hours, now trading above $15,700. Crypto bulls are eyeing a $20,000 price target in its near future.

***

By the numbers

979.34

Let’s start with Big Tech. Since last Friday’s close, the tech-heavy Nasdaq is up 979.34 points. Over the past four days, the Nasdaq has rocketed 7.8% higher, putting it on pace for its best week since the go-go-go days of April. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial, too, are in the middle of a nice bull run, as the chart below shows. (As of yesterday’s close, the Dow is roughly 0.5% away from hitting break-even for 2020). Wall Street is calling it the “relief rally“—that is, relief the “blue wave” scenario looks like a remote possibility. But there is a downside: under divided rule, investors probably won’t get that generous stimulus package they were pining for just a few weeks ago, and that could mean more pain for financials, airlines and value stocks.

7.6%

We break into our election coverage to remind you that we get the non-farm payrolls report today before the opening bell. The consensus estimate is for the unemployment rate to tick down to 7.6%. Here’s a reminder that the labor market recovery in America is a very uneven picture. What should be of little surprise is how many battleground states—Nevada, Pennsylvania and Michigan, to name three—are still behind the V-shaped curve. In states where the travel and leisure sectors—think Nevada and Hawaii—are vital, the unemployment rate is in the double-digits. It’s also hitting states where energy is a significant part of the local economy: Texas and PA, namely.

***

Postscript

I turned on the TV this morning. The screen went bright white, then black, and then nothing. Silence. “Morto,” my wife observed as I fruitlessly pressed a bunch of buttons and fiddled with cables.

My kids gathered around and cheered. “No more Bloomberg,” they taunted me.

Part of me is relieved.

***

Have a nice weekend, everyone. I’ll see you here on Monday (possibly after getting a new TV). 

Bernhard Warner
@BernhardWarner
[email protected]

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