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Markets shrug off U.S. insurrection to rally on Biden’s confirmation

January 8, 2021, 1:50 AM UTC

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Good evening, Bull Sheeters. This is Fortune finance reporter Rey Mashayekhi, filling in for Bernhard for the rest of this week with a special PM edition of the newsletter.

Conventional thinking says that events like those that transpired at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday are bad for the markets. They’re supposed to wreak the sort of chaos and uncertainty that make investors queasy and force ratings agencies to reconsider their sovereign credit ratings.

Well, not so fast. It appears that investors managed to keep their perspective, seeing yesterday’s violent insurrection on Capitol Hill for what it was: an ill-conceived, repugnant, ultimately toothless charade that had no chance at overturning the democratically elected outcome of November’s presidential election. In the end, it’s hard to fear uncertainty when it remains virtually certain that Joe Biden will be sworn in as President of the United States on Jan. 20.

But that’s not to say that the markets didn’t take kindly to developments overnight that saw Congress officially confirm Biden as America’s next president. While it’s now too late for a peaceful transfer of power, we will indeed have a transition in two weeks—news that spurred a global rally Thursday, with Wall Street’s major indexes all posting record highs. Investors also seemed to welcome Democrats’ double-victory in Georgia’s two U.S. Senate runoff elections, results that raise the likelihood of larger economic stimulus measures under a unified Democratic government.

Without further ado, let’s have a look at the day’s developments.

Markets update


  • It was a record-breaking day on Wall Street. After being up more than 300 points in the morning session, the Dow closed up more than 200 points (+0.7%) to end the day at north of 31,000. The S&P 500 broke 3,800 after climbing 1.5% on the day, while the Nasdaq eclipsed 13,000 on a 2.6% gain.
  • Likely bolstering sentiment was positive U.S. services sector data in December. There was less bullish news on the unemployment front, where new jobless claims remain high despite falling slightly last week.
  • Investors are counting on more economic stimulus after the Democrats won control of the Senate and gained full control of Congress. That prospect has spurred a drop in Treasury bond prices, with 10-year yields climbing above 1%.
  • A unified, Democratic Congress could also revive Biden’s designs on tax hikes, though investors have yet to recoil at the prospect of higher corporate taxes.
  • Lots of noise out of the Federal Reserve in the wake of yesterday’s release of December’s FOMC meeting minutes. Chicago Fed president Charles Evans said he believes the central bank will keep rates near zero until 2024, while his Philadelphia counterpart Patrick Harker thinks the Fed will maintain its aggressive bond-buying program through the end of the year. Richmond Fed president Thomas Barkin, meanwhile, believes the government’s most ambitious stimulus measures are now behind it.
  • Online lender SoFi is going public via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that values the startup at $8.7 billion.
  • Boeing will pay $2.5 billion in fines to resolve criminal charges relating to the 737 Max debacle, the Department of Justice announced.
  • American Express is reportedly being investigated by federal regulators for its business card sales practices, according to the Wall Street Journal.


  • The European bourses posted gains across the board. London’s FTSE picked up 0.2%, Frankfurt’s DAX climbed 0.6%, the CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.7%, and the pan-European STOXX 600 was up 0.5%.
  • The U.S. has suspended 25% import tariffs on French goods worth more than $1 billion annually. The tariffs were imposed in retaliation for France’s digital services tax on American tech firms.
  • London-based Signature Aviation appears to be the subject of a bidding war between U.S. private equity giants Carlyle and Blackstone, with both firms said to be targeting a $4 billion-plus takeover of the Bill Gates-backed company.
  • In other M&A news, French IT consulting group Atos is reportedly eyeing a $10 billion acquisition of U.S. rival DXC Technology, according to Reuters.
  • Portugal is confident that the European Commission will back a government bailout of struggling national airline carrier TAP Air, according to the country’s finance minister
  • Prosecutors in Denmark have charged two British nationals with “meticulously planned fraud” for an alleged $1.5 billion sham trading scheme.


  • Tokyo’s Nikkei—which is trading at levels not seen in 30 years—climbed 1.6% Thursday, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped -0.5% and South Korea’s KOSPI was up 2.1%. On mainland China, the major indices in Shanghai (+0.7) and Shenzhen (+1.1%) both posted gains.
  • The dying days of the Trump administration are seeing plenty of regulatory maneuvers against Chinese companies and their activities on U.S. shores. The White House is considering expanding a blacklist of companies with alleged ties to the Chinese military, with tech giants Alibaba and Tencent reportedly in its sights. China, for its part, said it would take retaliatory measures of its own, if necessary.
  • The New York Stock Exchange is going ahead with plans to delist three Chinese telecom companies, flip-flopping on an earlier decision to reverse the delistings after objections from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
  • Chinese tech behemoth Baidu is getting into electric vehicle manufacturing after teaming with automaker Geely, according to Reuters.


  • Gold slipped slightly.
  • The dollar bounced, for a change.
  • Bitcoin broke $40,000(!)
  • Crude oil rose, with Brent settling at north of $54/barrel.


That’s all for now; please be sure to check out today’s reads below. Have a pleasant evening and see you tomorrow.

Rey Mashayekhi

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Today's reads

Kind of blue. With both chambers of Congress now under Democratic control, Fortune’s Anne Sraders examines what this “blue wave” means for stock investors. And while it’s true that many market observers tend to prefer a divided government that’s short on big, sweeping legislative disruptions to the status quo, there’s still reason for optimism. “If you look at history, the markets have done okay under a full-blue scenario,” says Charles Schwab’s Randy Frederick.

Carry that weight. Index funds have been all the rage among investors, with trillions of dollars of inflows into vehicles that deploy a wide-ranging approach promising to beat the market. But they’re still far from foolproof, as Fortune’s Geoff Colvin notes—citing new research indicating that there are plenty of distortions in how these cap-weighted index funds work.

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Market candy

$188.5 billion

That was Elon Musk’s net worth as of 10:15 a.m. ET today—an eye-watering figure that now makes Musk the world’s richest person. The Tesla head has eclipsed Amazon’s Jeff Bezos for the top spot after capitalizing on his electric carmaker’s astonishing stock rally over the past 12 months.