By: Ella Koeze·Source: Refinitiv
Stocks on Wall Street climbed for a second day on Tuesday, buoyed by news that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. had chosen a former Federal Reserve chair, Janet L. Yellen, to be the next Treasury secretary, and as the Trump administration’s efforts to contest the election were further diminished as several key states certified Mr. Biden’s victory.
The S&P 500 rose about 1.6 percent, and by late morning was trading above its most recent closing record of 3,626.91, reached on Nov. 16. The Dow Jones industrial average rose to a high, crossing above the 30,000 mark for the first time.
President Trump, who has consistently warned that markets would tumble if he lost re-election, took credit for the record on Tuesday.
“The stock market’s just broken 30,000 — never been broken, that number,” Mr. Trump said in brief remarks at the White House. “That’s a sacred number, 30,000; nobody thought they’d ever see it.”
Ms. Yellen is widely expected to support government intervention to bolster the economy, and the gains on Tuesday reflected optimism about the outlook for growth, with economically sensitive companies among day’s the best performers. The Russell 2000 index of small stocks, which are geared toward domestic growth in the United States, jumped 2 percent. An index of bank stocks gained more than 4 percent.
Airlines, carmakers and companies positioned to benefit from a renewed push for deficit-financed federal spending — such as asphalt makers — all rose.
In energy markets, West Texas Intermediate futures surged more than 4 percent to over $45 a barrel, the highest since early March.
Ms. Yellen said last month that the economy needed “extraordinary fiscal support” while the pandemic was still affecting it. After two decades at the central bank, analysts say, she would be able to foster a close relationship between the two institutions.
“The former Fed chair is a welcome choice for investors, increasing the chances of strong coordination of fiscal and monetary policy,” analysts at UBS Global Wealth Management wrote in a note. “Relations between the Fed and Treasury have recently been strained by moves by the Trump administration to close some Fed emergency lending facilities.”
Despite a broad consensus that more support for growth is needed, the American economy shows pockets of strength. Fresh data on Tuesday showed the housing market continued to be robust in recent months. A Case-Shiller index of home prices in major American cities jumped 6.6 percent.
It also helped sentiment that, after weeks of delaying, Mr. Trump said on Monday that he accepted the decision by the General Services Administration to allow a transition to proceed. Although he did not concede the race, the start of the transition, which came after Michigan on Monday night certified Mr. Biden as its winner, further reduces political uncertainty that has weighed on investors. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania also certified its election results in favor of Mr. Biden.
Shares in Europe and Asia were also higher. The Stoxx Europe 600 index was 0.8 percent higher, led by gains in financial and energy stocks. In Britain, the FTSE 100 index climbed 1.5 percent.
Aviation and hospitality stocks were among the big gainers in the FTSE 100 after England said it would cut its 14-day quarantine time to five days if newly arrived visitors got a negative coronavirus test result. Shares in IAG, which owns British Airways, easyJet and Whitbread, a hotel and restaurant group, were all sharply higher.
Change in the S&P 500 since the 2016 election
Up six percent
Up six percent
Change in the S&P 500 since the 2016 election
Up six percent since election day 2020
Change in the S&P 500 since the 2016 election
As Inauguration Day approaches, President Trump’s grip on the collective psyche of investors appears to be receding.
Investors of all political persuasions say they are ready to turn the page on what was a profitable but extraordinarily politicized and stressful period for the financial markets, where they had to contend with an unpredictable force whose pronouncements frequently moved stock prices, The New York Times’s Matt Phillips reports.
The president’s trumpeting of market records, hectoring of executive whose decisions he disagreed with and surprise policy announcements via Twitter stood in stark contrast to the behavior of past presidents.
Since taking office, he has sent tweets or retweets with stock market references more than 200 times, and made scores of statements spotlighting the market’s rise under his administration.
Mr. Trump has disclosed market-moving information after private discussions with executives, he has demanded that the Fed cut interest rates to prop up the market, and he has unveiled his changing positions in the trade war with China in a hail of unexpected tweets that sent share prices tumbling.
He has publicly threatened and castigated major American companies, facing off with Amazon.com over its tax payments and deals with the U.S. Postal Service; with General Motors, Ford and Carrier — then a subsidiary of United Technologies — over plans to shutter plants; and with Lockheed Martin and Boeing over the costs of fighter jets and replacements for Air Force One.
For some investors, it means @realDonaldTrump has become an unwelcome distraction that they’re looking forward to being able to ignore soon.
“I just want my life to go back to normal,” said Barry Ritholtz, a money manager in New York who did not vote for Mr. Trump. “I just want the noise level to quiet down.”
Janet Yellen knows Wall Street, and Wall Street knows Janet Yellen.
Ms. Yellen has spend decades in public service, both at the Federal Reserve and on the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers. She was at the Fed when the central bank turned to array of unconventional policies, like its bond-buying program known as quantitative easing, in the wake of the financial crisis and the deep 2007 to 2009 recession. And she was chair of the central bank between 2014 and 2018, as it very slowly withdrew that support — caution many analysts believe helped to lay the foundation of a strong labor market that pushed the unemployment rate to a 50-year low before the coronavirus pandemic derailed the economy.
Now, as President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s expected pick for Treasury secretary, she’s being received by economists as someone who will favor an assertive government role in addressing the economic damage wrought by the pandemic.
“While the pandemic is still seriously affecting the economy, we need to continue extraordinary fiscal support,” Ms. Yellen said in a Bloomberg Television interview in October.
In the immediate future, that could mean revamping programs meant to help businesses, municipalities and financial markets weather the pandemic — ones that Steven Mnuchin, the current secretary, is allowing to end. It could also mean negotiating with Congress to secure renewed government spending to support the economy.
Ms. Yellen, 74, has in the past made a case that Congress should consider giving the central bank the power to buy a broader array of assets, like corporate bonds or even stocks — a response that progressives have at times painted as pro-corporate. Investors may see it as a sign that she is likely to be an activist policymaker.
But she also might favor slightly tighter financial regulation, given her recent track record as a critic of Trump-era rollbacks of constraints on banks.
Here’s what people had to say about the news of her likely nomination and possible confirmation:
“She’s obviously incredibly competent, experienced and also someone we know quite a bit about. It takes out any surprise factors. ” — Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at J.P. Morgan.
“Especially in times of crisis, it’s important to have a united front between fiscal and monetary policy, and Chair Yellen understands that better than anyone.” — Michelle Meyer, Chief U.S. Economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
“She’s an extraordinary person — she’s got an amazing intellect, incredible work ethic which puts us all to shame” and “she cares deeply about what she’s doing. It matters.”— John C. Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
“Yellen will likely work well with Fed Chairman Jay Powell. Powell was a Fed governor when Yellen was chair. And while they may have some small disagreements, they are on the same page regarding the need for economic stimulus. Yellen’s experience as Fed chair should also be comforting to markets, since she knows how the Fed works and won’t undermine it.” — Ian Katz, financial policy analyst at Capital Alpha Partners.
“Her nomination is historic for many reasons, from breaking yet another glass ceiling, to the dire economic situation she will inherit on the first day on the job. Perhaps most importantly is how qualified Yellen is to meet this challenge head-on.” — Tim Adams, chief executive of the Institute for International Finance.
Ms. Yellen “will have a tough job ahead of her, but she has the experience, talent, credibility and relationships with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to make a real difference.” — Henry M. Paulson Jr., Treasury secretary under President George W. Bush.
“Janet Yellen would be an outstanding choice for Treasury Secretary. She is smart, tough, and principled. As one of the most successful Fed Chairs ever, she has stood up to Wall Street banks, including holding Wells Fargo accountable for cheating working families.” — Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts.
“Janet Yellen will be the kind of deeply thoughtful, caring leader our country needs as Treasury Secretary. She understands that a high pressure economy where workers are in short supply is the best social program.” — Lawrence Summers, Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton.
“Janet Yellen is an excellent choice for Treasury Secretary. Having had the opportunity to work with then-Chair Yellen, I have no doubt she will be the steady hand we need to promote an economy that works for everyone, especially during these difficult times.” — Gary Cohn, the former Trump economic adviser and Goldman Sachs president.
The Trump administration is weighing several policy actions aimed at thwarting China as President Trump and his advisers use their final weeks in office to try to curb America’s economic ties with the country.
The measures, which may be announced as soon as this week, could place more limitations on Americans looking to sell products or invest in certain Chinese companies, though their scope remains to be seen and could be relatively limited, according to people familiar with the plans.
The most likely moves include placing dozens of additional Chinese companies, including China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, on a Defense Department list of companies with ties to the Chinese military, the people said.
Mr. Trump issued an executive order this month barring companies on that list from receiving American investment, saying such funding posed a risk to national security. Only a handful of these companies are listed on American exchanges, but several are components of exchange-traded funds, which must exclude the designated companies from American portfolios after Jan. 11.
The administration is also weighing other measures, including additional sanctions related to Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong, or restrictions on goods imported from Xinjiang, where Beijing has detained and surveilled local Muslim populations.
The administration may also designate a list of 89 Chinese companies in the aerospace and other sectors as “military end users,” which would limit their ability to purchase certain American goods and technology. The proposed list, which includes the Chinese aircraft manufacturers Commercial Aircraft Corp of China, known as Comac, and Aviation Industry Corporation of China, was first reported by Reuters.
That action would not be as broad in scope as placing the companies on the entity list, which sets wider limitations on American exports to the companies, a move that was also considered in meetings at the Commerce Department in recent weeks. And the rules would place no restrictions on American companies supplying goods to the Chinese companies through their foreign subsidiaries.
“As President Trump has continually said, ‘Economic security is national security,’” Wilbur Ross, the secretary of commerce, said Tuesday in a statement that neither confirmed nor denied the policy moves.
“The Department of Commerce ensures the U.S. economy continues to grow, while coordinating with our partner agencies to hold foreign adversaries accountable,” the statement said. “Active and constructive dialogue with industry is an important step in this process.”
Over the past four years, General Motors has emerged as one of President Trump’s favorite corporate targets. He attacked the company repeatedly for closing a plant in Ohio and lashed out at it even when the automaker offered to make ventilators this spring in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
And Mr. Trump ridiculed the company’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, one of the few women to lead a large U.S. corporation. “Always a mess with Mary B,” he wrote on Twitter in March.
The company and Ms. Barra have not responded to the presidential wrath, but on Monday G.M. broke ranks with the White House on the one major issue where they were aligned. The automaker said it would no longer back the Trump administration in a fight with California over clean-air standards.
California has sought tougher standards on tailpipe emissions to battle climate change. The Trump administration loosened Obama-era standards and revoked the authority of California and other states to set their own rules, which led to a lawsuit from several states. G.M., Toyota Motor and Fiat Chrysler intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of the administration. A few other automakers, including Ford Motor, BMW and Volkswagen, sided with California.
G.M.’s support for the Trump administration surprised many auto experts given the president’s repeated attacks on the company and Ms. Barra. It also seemed to be an odd position for G.M. to take because the automaker has outlined ambitious plans to add nearly two dozen electric models to its lineup.
In a letter to the leaders of some of the nation’s largest environmental groups on Monday, Ms. Barra indicated G.M. was now backing President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. in his plan to cut emissions and support the use of electric vehicles.
“We believe the ambitious electrification goals of the president-elect, California, and General Motors are aligned to address climate change by drastically reducing automobile emissions,” she wrote. “To better foster the necessary dialogue, we are immediately withdrawing from the pre-emption litigation and inviting other automakers to join us.”
The letter came a week after Ms. Barra announced plans to spend $27 billion over the next five years to develop electric vehicles, including 20 models that will be sold in the United States. It also came on the same day that Michigan certified Mr. Biden’s electoral win in the state, helping to cement his victory.
The spice maker McCormick & Company will acquire Cholula Hot Sauce for $800 million, the companies announced on Tuesday.
The deal is a bet on the growing popularity around the world for spicy flavorings, three years after McCormick acquired the Frank’s RedHot brand, as part of a $4.2 billion takeover of Reckitt Benckiser’s foods business. As people eat more at home — and cook more adventurously — during the pandemic, sales and profits have risen for McCormick, which is based in Hunt Valley, Md. Its share price rose by more than 1 percent in early trading on Tuesday, and is up about 10 percent so far this year.
The company’s chief executive, Lawrence E. Kurzius, told analysts in September that the company hoped to generate about a third of its growth through acquisitions. With Cholula, McCormick, which describes itself as “a global leader in flavor,” has added another flavorful brand in its cupboard, which also includes French’s mustard.
“Hot sauce is an attractive, high-growth category and, as an iconic premium brand, Cholula is outpacing category growth,” Mr. Kurzius said in a statement on Tuesday.
The private equity firm L Catterton acquired Cholula in late 2018 from investors that included the tequila producer Jose Cuervo. Under its ownership, Cholula expanded its distribution with retailers and partnerships with restaurants. The sauce, which is made in Mexico and packaged in wooden-capped bottles, first entered the United States in 1989. It now sells in flavors that include Jalapeño Green Pepper, Chipotle and Chile Lime.
Fewer travelers were screened at airport security checkpoints on Monday than the day before, but the number still reached nearly a million people, a concerning indication that people flying for Thanksgiving could increase the spread of the coronavirus.
About 917,000 people were screened by the Transportation Security Administration on Monday, according to federal data published on Tuesday. That number was down from more than one million on Sunday and was less than half of what it was in 2019. But it represents a big increase from the spring, when fewer than a half a million people flew on any given day.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are strongly discouraging holiday travel as the number of new infections surges across the country.
The number of people who are expected to drive for the holiday is also expected to be down, but not by as much as air travel. The AAA motor club said this month that it expected road trips to be down by just 4.3 percent this holiday. The group said overall holiday travel would decline this year by at least 10 percent, to about 50 million people. But it added that the overall drop could be even larger than that given the recent warnings from public health officials for people to stay at home.
Airlines have said that flying is safe because of the precautions the industry has put in place, like high-end air filtration. They also point to the relatively few published cases of the coronavirus being spread during a flight. But the science on in-flight safety is far from settled, and travelers would still be at risk of contracting or spreading the virus at airports and once they are at their destination.
Interest in travel generally has increased after recent announcements by pharmaceutical companies that their coronavirus vaccine candidates have been effective at preventing infections, according to preliminary data. Travel bookings increased by about 25 percent after Pfizer said in early November that a vaccine it was developing with BioNTech was more than 90 percent effective, according to Skyscanner, a travel search engine.
The increase in travel during the holidays has been encouraging for airlines. But it won’t be enough to offset the deep losses they have suffered during the pandemic. The nation’s largest airlines have collectively reported tens of billions of dollars in losses so far this year, and analysts expect demand to remain weak for a couple of years or more. The industry is hoping that the incoming Biden administration and Congress will give airlines more aid early next year.
JPMorgan Chase is paying a $250 million fine after its regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, said it had not properly managed the conflicts of interest it faced when handling customers’ funds. The penalty relates to trillions of dollars the bank manages in investments and other related assets for customers. While the O.C.C. said that JPMorgan had fixed the problems, they were serious enough to still warrant the fine. “We have invested significantly in and enhanced our controls platform over the last several years to address the issues identified,” a bank spokesman, Darin Oduyoye, said in an email.
Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the largest sporting goods retailers in the nation, announced on Tuesday that Edward W. Stack would step down as president and chief executive, effective Feb. 1. Lauren R. Hobart, company’s president, will take over the roles, while Mr. Stack will remain at the company as executive chairman. Mr. Stack, who has led Dick’s since 1984, was considered a model for business leaders wading into social issues after he shifted the company away from gun sales in the aftermath of the deadly mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., in 2018. Under Mr. Stack’s leadership, Dick’s has grown to more than 850 stores and nearly $9 billion in annual revenue, the company said.
Retailers are succumbing to the dominance of e-commerce and scrambling to salvage increasingly irrelevant physical shopping spaces by turning them into fulfillment centers to process online orders and returns, rather than stores where customers can browse and shop.
The forces propelling online shopping were set in motion long before the pandemic. But in the future, 2020 will be seen as a major inflection point for retail, The New York Times’s Michael Corkery and Sapna Maheshwari report:
Across the industry, online sales are expected to increase at their fastest rate in 12 years, accounting for 20 percent of all retail purchases this year. That’s up from 16 percent in 2019, according to Forrester Research.
Earlier this month, the number of stores announced for closure in 2020 climbed to a high of 10,991, according to the CoStar Group, a data provider for the real estate industry. Many malls are teetering as tenants reduce the number of stores, fail to pay rent or exit through bankruptcies.
Across Manhattan, the number of retail leases signed or renewed dropped 31 percent in the third quarter from a year ago and rents fell 13 percent in the major shopping corridors, according to CBRE, a real estate services company.
But warehouse leases were up 70 percent in the third quarter from the previous quarter, and more than a dozen e-commerce warehouses are being built to feed New York’s insatiable need for same-day deliveries.
In June, Amazon signed a lease on a 285,000-square foot “delivery station” in the Maspeth section of Queens. Amazon has also vastly expanded the space it is leasing in a string of giant warehouses on Staten Island. In addition to the 855,000-square foot fulfillment center that the company opened in 2018, Amazon this fall expanded into 1.4 million additional square feet of space on the Staten Island site. In the Bronx, the company is taking over a building recently vacated by its rival Walmart.