S&P 500 falls again | US Congress passes stimulus

23/12/2020 U.S. and European stock futures are lower this morning, while Asian equities traded mostly higher after President Donald Trump said he is asking Congress to amend the pandemic aid legislation that was passed earlier this week. Treasuries ticked up. S&P 500 futures fell as much as 0.7% before paring most of the losses. Trump demanded that lawmakers increase the stimulus checks due to go out to most Americans to $2,000 from $600, just a day after Congress passed a $900 billion bipartisan relief package. Investors also continue to assess the vaccine rollout after a new virus variant sparked more severe lockdowns. Gold climbed while crude oil retreated. Tencent trading flat in HK. The JSE Top 40 futures are indicating a slightly lower start, down 25 points or 0.05%, with the Rand fairly steady at 14.66 vs the USD.

Locally the FTSE/JSE Africa All-Share Index closed down 0.2% to 58,619 on thin volume. The Rand was down 0.5% to 14.66 per US$, with the Yield on 10-year govt rand bonds that fell 8.40 bps to 8.75 bps.
South Africa will have access to the Covax program after paying a $19.2 million deposit to secure 6 million coronavirus vaccines, the Department of Health said in a statement.

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EU/UK
European shares closed higher yesterday afternoon, attempting to recover from a brutal sell-off in the previous session, despite concerns over a new coronavirus strain in the U.K.. The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed 1.3% higher, with Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC indexes rising around 1.3% and 1.6% respectively. Britain’s FTSE 100 closed 0.5% up after initially falling. Banking stocks were among the top gainers, up 1.8%, with Barclays and Lloyds both climbing over 3% to lead the sector. Elsewhere, technology was up 2.5% as European markets closed. Meanwhile, the U.K. and EU remain deadlocked over post-Brexit trade relations as the Dec. 31 deadline approaches, with disputes over issues such as fisheries plaguing talks. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that the country could still crash out without a deal.
US
The S&P 500 fell for a third straight session even after Congress approved a long-delayed coronavirus relief package. The S&P 500 dipped 0.2%, or 7 points, to 3,687 in relatively thin trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 200 points, or 0.7%, to 30,015. The Nasdaq Composite eked out a 0.5% gain to close at 12,807, a new record. The tech-heavy index was supported by a 2.9% jump in Apple shares amid investor enthusiasm around its reported foray into self-driving vehicles. Equity investors could be taking chips off the table after registering solid gains in 2020. Congressional leaders attached $900 billion in pandemic aid to a $1.4 trillion measure to fund the government through Sept. 30. Travel-related stocks came under pressure once again amid lingering concerns about a new variant of Covid-19 in the U.K. Many European countries implemented travel restrictions on visitors from the U.K., and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for the United States to take similar steps. American Airlines dropped 3.9% and United fell 2.5%. Carnival fell nearly 6%, while Royal Caribbean dipped nearly 3%. Norwegian Cruise Line slid 6.9%.
ASIA
Stocks in Asia-Pacific were higher in Wednesday trade following new remarks from U.S. President Donald Trump surrounding the new Covid-19 relief package. Mainland Chinese stocks were higher by the afternoon, with the Shanghai composite up 0.85% while the Shenzhen component advanced 1.087%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.44%. South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1% while in Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.3% and the Topix index was marginally higher. Shares in Australia edged higher, with the S&P/ASX 200 gaining 0.59%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.59%.
COMMODITIES
Oil fell for a third day as a report pointing to an increase in U.S. crude stockpiles worsened sentiment in a market already on edge over the discovery of a potentially faster-spreading mutation of Covid-19 in the U.K. Futures in New York dropped toward $46 a barrel and are down around 6% this week.