U.S. Stocks Close Notably Lower As Stimulus Bill Blocked In Senate

After coming under pressure early in the session, stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading day on Monday but largely remained firmly negative before closing notably lower. With the continued drop on the day, the Dow and the S&P 500 tumbled to new three-year closing lows and the Nasdaq ended the session at its lowest closing level in over a year. The major averages all closed in negative territory, although the Nasdaq posted a relatively modest loss. While the Nasdaq fell 18.84 points or 0.3 percent to 6,860.67, the Dow plunged 582.05 points or 3 percent to 18,591.93 and the S&P 500 plummeted 67.52 points or 2.9 percent to 2,237.40. The lower close on Wall Street came as a massive fiscal stimulus bill once again failed to clear a procedural hurdle in the Senate. In a largely party-line vote, Senators voted 49 to 46 in favor of the procedural motion, falling short of the 60 votes needed to advance the bill. Most Democratic Senators voted against advancing the bill amid complaints that the legislation does too much to bail out companies and not enough to provide assistance to workers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., was harshly critical of Democrats for blocking the bill, while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., expressed optimism a deal could still be reached as soon as today. The lack of progress on Capitol Hill partly offset the positive sentiment generated by the Federal Reserve's announcement of extensive new measures to support the economy during the coronavirus pandemic. Citing the tremendous hardship being caused by the outbreak, the Fed said it is committed to using its full range of tools to support households, businesses, and the U.S. economy overall in this challenging time. The measures announced today include an unlimited expansion of the Fed's asset purchases, with the central bank saying it will purchase Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities "in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions and the economy." The Fed had previously announced it would purchase at least $500 billion of Treasury securities and at least $200 billion of mortgage-backed securities. The latest developments come as data from Johns Hopkins University shows the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has climbed above 370,000 worldwide, with confirmed cases in the U.S. jumping above 40,000. Sector News Telecom stocks showed a substantial move to the downside on the day, dragging the NYSE Arca North American Telecom Index down by 8.2 percent to its lowest closing level in over seven years. Significant weakness was also visible among housing stocks, as reflected by the 7.5 percent nosedive by the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index. The index ended the day at a five-year closing low.Banking, natural gas, commercial real estate and utilities stocks also saw considerable weakness, moving lower along with most of the other major sectors. On the other hand, gold stocks moved sharply amid a spike by the price of the precious metal. With gold for April delivery skyrocketing $83 to $1,567.60 an ounce, the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index surged up by 6.5 percent. Semiconductor stocks also saw significant strength on the day, helping to limit the downside for the tech-heavy Nasdaq. Other Markets In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower on Monday. China's Shanghai Composite Index plunged by 3.1 percent and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index tanked by 5.6 percent, although Japan's Nikkei 225 Index bucked the downtrend and jumped by 2 percent. The major European markets also moved to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index slumped by 2.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index plummeted by 3.3 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively. In the bond market, treasuries moved sharply higher following the news of the Fed's unlimited bonds purchases. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, tumbled by 17.4 basis points to 0.764 percent. Looking Ahead Trading on Tuesday may be impacted by reaction to the latest developments in Washington, as lawmakers continue to try to negotiate an agreement on a fiscal stimulus bill.

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