Wednesday, March 25, 2020

As Senate Seeks $2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package, Stocks Roar to Record Gains; Gold, Silver Rebound

When Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell announced on Tuesday that negotiations over a $2 trillion national bailout were "on the five-yard line," minority leader Chuck Schumer one-upped him, quipping that negotiations were on the two-yard line as he met and wrangled over details with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Presumptuously a bi-partisan effort, the back-and-forth between the administration and Senate leaders managed to lift spirts in lower Manhattan, sending stocks to record one-day gains as hope for financial relief appeared to be within reach.

The 2,113.01-point, 11.37 percent gain on the Dow Industrials was not only the greatest one-day point rise in market history, it was also the fourth-best percentage rise, following a 12.34 percent advance on October 30, 1929, when the market was just entering the Great Depression. At the time, the Industrial Average stood at 258.47, with its gain of 28.40 points.

Whether that comparison is fair or apocryphal remains to be seen, though it's a well-known fact that the greatest stock market gains occur during bear markets. Of the top seven one-day percentage gains, four were during the Great Depression, the other two occurring in the Great Financial Crisis, on October 13 and 28 of 2008. It would indeed be wise for market participants to pay heed to Tuesday's inclusion in this suspicious list.

The NASDAQ's 557.19-point rip was the second-most ever, following a 672.43-point advance on March 13, 2020, less than two-weeks ago. The 8.12 percent increase tied for seventh all-time with a similar percentage gain on April 18, 2001. At that time, the NASDAQ was well into the throes of the dot-com bust. The tech-laden index was then trading just above 2000, when a month prior it had reached all-time highs, breaking above 5000.

The story was the same for the S&P 500, which recorded the eighth-best percentage gain. The seven higher percentage gains were all made either during the Great Depression (five of them), while two happened in October, 2008. The S&P's 209.93-point rise stands second only to the 230.38-point advance on March 13 of this year.

While the Senate dithered over details, bulls were greatly relieved as they took it to the bears throughout the session. Led by Chevron (CVX) with a 22.74% increase, some of the top performers on the Dow Jones Industrial Average included American Express (AXP, +21.88%), beleaguered Boeing (BA, +20.89%), McDonald's (MCD, +18.13%), Goldman Sachs (GS, +13.80%), and 3M (MMM, +12.60%).

The outpouring of money and joy didn't stop at the corner of Wall Street and Broadway. The money flows extended into gold and silver, the two precious metals having recently been pounded below sensible levels. With one of its best one-day performances ever, gold advanced by some $84.80, finishing up at $1636.00 the ounce after a close at $1551.20 on Monday.

Silver rose from a close of 13.27 on Monday to end trading in New York at 14.36, a gain of 8.21 percent.

Oil was stable to higher, with WTI crude advancing from $23.36 per barrel to $24.01 on the day.

Generally, bonds sold off, led by treasuries with durations between one and 10 years. Yield on the 10-year note advanced eight basis points, from 0.76% to 0.84%. The largest gain of yield was found on the five-year note, which rose from 0.38% to 0.52%. The curve is still relatively flat, with yields in a narrow band of 138 basis points. The one, two, and three month bills all stand at 0.01%, with the 30-year bond checking in at 1.39%

While the Senate never did get to a cloture vote on Tuesday, the deal was eventually struck just before 1:00 am ET on Wednesday, when White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland exited Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office saying, according to CNN. “We have a deal.”

The full Senate is poised to vote on the package midday Wednesday. The House is expected to approve the bill by unanimous consent, sending it to the White House for President Trump's signature. The president is reportedly eager to sign the bill, sending money to individuals, families and businesses affected by events surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

It is expected to advance direct payments of $1200 per citizen ($2400 for married couples) earning less than $75,000 a year. It is the largest stimulus bill ever made into law. With markets prepared to open shortly, futures are less-than-enthusiastic, as all of the major indices indicate a lower opening though Asian markets were up sharply overnight and European indices are mixed.

At the Close, Tuesday, March 24, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 20,704.91, +2,113.01 (+11.37%)
NASDAQ: 7,417.86, +557.19 (+8.12%)
S&P 500: 2,447.33, +209.93 (+9.38%)
NYSE: 9,658.32, +880.94 (+10.04%)

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