Emergency lending pullback
Getting a lot of attention overnight was a decision by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to not renew some emergency Fed programs that tapped funds from the CARES Act. Those include ones that support the markets for corporate bonds and municipal debt, as well as the Main Street Lending Program to small- and medium-size businesses, which had been lightly used. “Companies don’t need more loans, and instead require more grant money, which requires action from Congress,” Mnuchin declared, adding that the programs “have clearly achieved their objectives.” While four other programs will be kept in place for an additional 90 days, the Fed responded that it “would prefer that the full suite of emergency facilities established during the coronavirus pandemic continue to serve their important role as a backstop for our still-strained and vulnerable economy.” Do they need to be extended? “This is getting a lot of debate, but I’m going to make the case that whether we extend them or not may not be that material to financial markets,” St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said earlier this week. “We can always start up the liquidity programs again in the future.”
Coronavirus cases continue to surge
Not much movement was seen from futures overnight, with contracts tied to the Dow and S&P 500 dipping slightly and the Nasdaq inching up. Things have been choppy in recent days amid soaring coronavirus infections and what that will mean for the economy, while the development of an effective vaccine stokes hopes of a post-pandemic world. Many states have already rolled back reopening plans and implemented new restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 as the U.S. logged its highest-ever number of daily reported infections at 187,833, as well as a record amount of hospitalizations. On Thursday, California governor Gavin Newsom issued a “limited Stay at Home Order” on a majority of the state’s residents, though Joe Biden said he will not pursue a “national shutdown – period.”
Lack of fiscal stimulus
“Last night, McConnell’s folks agreed to sit down and the staffs are going to sit down today or tomorrow to try to begin to see if we can get a real good Covid relief bill,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said during a press conference on Thursday. Sound familiar? Congress has been at the table for months, but both sides want to claim a victory in the negotiations, with politics still at the center of the deadlock. Many point to the Senate runoffs in Georgia on Jan. 5 as the earliest date that we could see some action, meaning the next coronavirus aid package is at least a month away. A lack of stimulus and surging cases haven’t so far derailed the recent rally, given the crosscurrent of vaccine optimism and holiday spending.
Retail Bros. vs. Wall Street
It’s one of the topics that has been widely discussed since the sharp market drop in March, only to see a record recovery that took months instead of years. While many hedge fund managers have said retail investors were responsible for driving some U.S. stocks to “nightmare” valuations, Robinhood (RBNHD) co-CEO Vlad Tenev sees his customer base as a “market-stabilizing force during the volatility.” New entrants to the market actually played a key part in the quick recovery, taking on more risk and carrying a long-term outlook, he told Jim Cramer during a Mad Money interview. “People who are investing for the first time in their 20s or 30s have a very different outlook than people that are maybe a handful of years away from retirement. When you’re younger you know that there are decades of compound returns and decades of riding out the ups and downs of the market.” (16 comments)
Emergency use authorization
Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) intends to file an application to the FDA for emergency use of its coronavirus vaccine today, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, with Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) soon to follow. Earlier this week, Azar said there will be roughly 40M doses of vaccine available by the end of this year between the two companies, enough to inoculate about 20M people. Both vaccines have shown about 95% efficacy rates in late-stage trials and are seen by investors and policymakers as a solution to get the economy going again. Meanwhile, the WHO recommended against the use of Gilead’s (NASDAQ:GILD) remdesivir to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients, saying there was no evidence that it improves survival or the need for ventilation. (167 comments)
CDC warns against Thanksgiving travel
“Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year,” the CDC says in a new advisory. For Americans who do choose to travel, the CDC advised doing so as safely as possible, by following the same everyday recommendations like wearing a mask in public places, social distancing and washing hands frequently. “The reason that we made the update is that the fact that over the week we’ve seen over a million new cases in the country,” said Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz, the CDC’s lead for Community Intervention and Critical Population Task Force.
Buzz & Huff
BuzzFeed has agreed to acquire Verizon Media’s (NYSE:VZ) HuffPost in a stock deal as tech goliaths Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Google (GOOG, GOOGL) continue to suck up digital ad dollars. BuzzFeed will give Verizon Media a minority stake through the transaction and draw some cash in return, while the companies will syndicate content on each other’s platforms and explore joint advertising opportunities. Many players in the sector have pursued mergers to chart a path forward amid a struggle to develop revenue from subscriptions and e-commerce. In the last year, Vice Media acquired Refinery29, Vox scooped up New York Media and Group Nine acquired PopSugar.
What else is happening…
Gaming platform Roblox files IPO prospectus.
On a tear… S&P 500 inclusion sees Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) shares touch $500.
General Motors (NYSE:GM) commits to EV investment, quiet on Nikola (NASDAQ:NKLA).
McAfee (NASDAQ:MCFE) breaks even in first post-IPO print.
Thursday’s Key Earnings
Macy’s (NYSE:M) +2.1% posting a smaller-than-expected loss.
Workday (NASDAQ:WDAY) -4% AH warning of coming COVID-19 effects.
In Asia, Japan -0.4%. Hong Kong +0.4%. China +0.4%. India +0.7%.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.5%. Paris +0.5%. Frankfurt +0.5%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow -0.1%. S&P -0.1%. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude +0.7% to $42.21. Gold +0.2% at $1864.60. Bitcoin +2.9% to $18250.
Ten-year Treasury Yield flat at 0.85%
Today’s Economic Calendar
9:00 Fed’s Barkin Speech
9:00 Fed’s Bostic Speech
9:30 Fed’s Kaplan Speech
1:00 PM Baker-Hughes Rig Count