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Stimulus, stimulus, stimulus. The markets cling to hopes a deal could still get done

October 1, 2020, 9:40 AM UTC

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Good morning, Bull Sheeters. We made it to the fourth quarter. Pheww.

The equities rally, now well into its sixth month, has generated huge returns for shareholders, with the Nasdaq and S&P 500 up more than 26% since their March lows, good for the best two-quarter performance since 2009.

But we’re entering a very different phase as the page flips on the calendar. That volatility was on display yesterday with a breakdown in stimulus talks and a staggering wave of layoffs pulling the major U.S. exchanges off their highs.

Let’s see what’s driving markets today.

Markets update


  • The major Asia indexes are not trading today for various reasons, scheduled and otherwise. A two-day national holidays in Hong Kong and mainland China have closed the bourses there.
  • And, the first day of Q4 trading didn’t go off at all on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The world’s third largest bourse suffered its worst ever outage. Officials blamed a hardware issue.


  • The European bourses are mostly higher with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.4% out of the gates.
  • The great Brexit exodus is already underway. The cost of divorce is becoming clearer as Big Finance has now moved or pledged to move 7,500 jobs and $1.6 trillion worth of assets across the English Channel to the European Union.
  • Shares in Bayer were down more than 12% at the open after the agrochemical giant announced a $1.8 billion cost-cutting plan that involves job cuts and the potential sale of business units.


  • U.S. futures are in the green (though off their highs) this morning even as stimulus talks in Washington broke down yesterday. Meanwhile, Wall Street continues to lower the odds of an imminent deal. “Expectations are focused on a fiscal package by January, after the election,” UBS economists wrote in an investor note this morning.
  • Bank stocks will be in focus today after the Federal Reserve extended through year-end a ban on dividends and share-buybacks.
  • It’s been a brutal week for layoffs. Walt Disney Co., Goldman Sachs, Royal Dutch Shell, American and United Air Lines and Allstate are among the major firms to announce tens of thousands of job cuts over the past two days, another ominous sign for the labor market.
  • Most of these layoffs won’t be included in tomorrow’s non-farm payrolls report or in today’s jobless claims tally.


  • Gold is up, nudging above $1,900/ounce.
  • The dollar is up.
  • Crude is down, with Brent trading below $42/barrel.



A September to remember

Low-energy performance. Again.

An almighty comeback for the dollar?

What investors hate

A potential constitutional crisis.

What investors like

Stimulus checks!

What stimulus probably means

Not much


Have a nice day, everyone. I’ll see you here tomorrow. 

Bernhard Warner

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Today's reads

Tesla's permits to profit. Quick! What's the most profitable part of Tesla's business? If you said making sleek electric-powered vehicles, think again. It's the sale of emissions credits to rival automakers, accounting for all of Tesla's operating profits in the first half of 2020, Fortune's Shawn Tully reports. More worrying, this business is about to go up in smoke. Could this have anything to do with the automakers' recent snub by the S&P 500?

A not-so-secret debut. Palantir Technologies finished up 31% in its debut as a public company, "ending a 17-year tradition of secrecy surrounding the software business co-founded by Peter Thiel," Bloomberg reports. The other big tech IPO yesterday was from workplace management software maker Asana. It performed even better than Palantir in its debut.

The 400 Club. Technology and biotech companies dominate the short list of companies whose stocks are up more than 400% so far in 2020. You can probably guess a few. Yes, there's Telsa. But also Too bad its founder has missed out on the rally of a lifetime.

Some of these stories require a subscription to access. There is a discount offer for our loyal readers if you use this link to sign up. Thank you for supporting our journalism.

Market candy

Quote of the day

Every presidential election now, you don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t want regulatory or policy whiplash. We want predictability.

That's Catherine Monson, CEO of Fastsigns. She speaks for much of Corporate America in telling Fortune's Geoff Colvin what she wants from the White House in the next four years. Fortune writers (including yours truly) fanned out across America, so to speak, to bring you our latest package, "What business needs from the 2020 election."