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Stocks rose Monday as investors considered another set of corporate earnings reports and awaited a slew of data on the state of the labor market this week as parts of the country continue to grapple with a rise in coronavirus cases. The Nasdaq outperformed, jumping more than 1% as big tech stocks extended last week’s gains.
Stimulus discussions in Washington also remained a focal point. As of late last week, Democratic and Republican lawmakers were in a logjam over the details of a new virus-related economic relief package, with the enhanced $600 per week in unemployment benefits having expired last Friday.
Democrats have pushed for a more than $3 trillion stimulus plan to extend this benefit at the $600 per week level, and also offer direct payments and more aid for state and local governments for food and housing assistance, and funding for schools and virus testing. The Republican stimulus plan, which totals around $1 trillion, would also include direct payments, but a lower level of enhanced weekly federal unemployment benefits and smaller sums in aid for Covid-19 testing and other funding.
Some economists highlighted that the lapse in enhanced unemployment benefits as negotiations remain under way would generate a near-immediate negative impact on consumer spending.
“The expiration last week of enhanced unemployment benefits will take about $12 billion per week out of consumers’ spending power – that’s 3.3% of weekly GDP – until some form of replacement passes Congress,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics, estimated in a note Sunday.
“The gap between the two sides is so huge, to say nothing of the splits within the Republican ranks, that the chance of a deal before the recess, from August 10 through September 7, appears to be diminishing rapidly,” he added.
New coronavirus cases rose in some states over the weekend, with the ongoing outbreak further weighing on a linear economic recovery. California, the nation’s most populous state, on Sunday reported more than 9,000 new cases, in a total larger than the average over the previous 14 days of just under 8,900. The state has the highest number of total positive cases in the country, with the total breaching 500,000 for the first time this weekend.
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