Stocks rally as slow coronavirus-relief talks move in 'right direction'

By Jonathan Garber FOXBusiness

Microsoft has until Sept. 15 to strike a deal for TikTok’s US operations.

U.S. equity markets rallied Tuesday morning after a Democratic negotiator said deadlocked Congressional talks on coronavirus relief, including extra unemployment benefits that boosted the economy before running out last month, were moving in the “right direction.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 123 points, or 0.46 percent, while the S&P 500 gained 0.17 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq touched a record high before dipping back into the red late in the morning.

An all-time high at closing would be the Nasdaq’s 30th of the year and 156th under President Trump.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX10876.704832-26.09-0.24%
SP500S&P 5003296.04+1.43+0.04%
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES26761.35+96.95+0.36%

Democrats and Republicans “remain far apart on a number of issues. But we’re finally moving in the right direction,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat, said on the chamber floor, according to Reuters. “At the moment, the gap between our two parties in the negotiations is about priorities and about scale.”

Lawmakers are set to resume talks at 3:30 p.m. ET, the news service reported.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said after talks on Monday that negotiators made a “little bit of progress,” but were divided on key issues including an extra $600-per-week unemployment benefit that supplemented state payouts.

GOP leaders want to cut the payment to $200, arguing that the higher amount prompts lower-paid workers not to return to their jobs.

Looking at stocks, Ford CEO Jim Hackett has stepped down effective Oct. 1 and will be replaced by COO Jim Farley. Shares of the automaker had fallen 40 percent through Monday since Hackett took over as CEO more than three years ago,

Microsoft shares remain in focus as the company continues talks with China-based Bytedance for the U.S. operations of social-media app TikTok. Trump, who has threatened to ban the popular app in the U.S., said on Monday that Microsoft has until September 15 to reach a deal.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
FFORD MOTOR COMPANY6.76+0.07+1.05%
MSFTMICROSOFT CORP.211.34-5.20-2.40%
BPBP PLC23.61+1.52+6.88%

On the earnings front, BP booked a $10.9 billion writedown on its way to a quarterly pre-tax loss of $16.8 billion. The London-based oil giant cut its 10.5-cent-per-share dividend in half and said it would aim to reduce net carbon emissions from oil and gas by as much as 40 percent over the next decade.

Apparel maker Ralph Lauren said same-store sales in the three months through June plunged 57 percent from a year ago as COVID-19 shuttered shops around the world.

FORD CEO JIM HACKETT TO STEP DOWN

Take-Two Interactive reported a 54 percent jump in quarterly revenue and raised its earnings forecast after the video-game maker saw surging demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
RLRALPH LAUREN CORP64.67-5.05-7.24%
TTWOTAKE TWO174.52+6.83+4.08%
AAPLAPPLE INC.438.70+2.95+0.68%

Meanwhile, Apple continues its quest to become the first company to reach the vaunted $2 trillion market value. The tech giant, which finished the prior session with a market cap of $1.86 trillion, needs shares to close at or above $467.77 to reach the mark.

Looking at commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil was up 63 cents at $41.64 per barrel while gold was up $26.30 at $2,012.60 an ounce.

RISK OF DELAYED, DISPUTED ELECTION RESULTS LOOMS OVER MARKET RALLY

U.S. Treasurys gained, pushing the yield on the 10-year note down by 2.5 basis points to 0.538 percent.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX was down 0.46 percent while Britain’s FTSE slipped 0.08 percent. France’s CAC 40 rose 0.26 percent.

Markets rallied across Asia, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbing 2 percent, Japan’s Nikkei adding 1.7 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite edging up 0.11 percent.

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