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Post by thelivyjr »


"10-year Treasury yield flirts with 0.80% as Pelosi suggests there is still time for pre-election fiscal stimulus deal"

By Sunny Oh

Last Updated: Oct. 20, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. ET
First Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 8:42 a.m. ET

U.S. Treasury yields rose Tuesday as investors contemplated the prospect of a pre-election fiscal stimulus deal in Washington, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested there still remained a window for an agreement to be struck.

What are Treasurys doing?

The 10-year Treasury note yield climbed 3.6 basis points to 0.796%, its highest close since June 9, while the 2-year note rate held steady at 0.145%.

The 30-year bond yield added 5.6 basis points to 1.603%, highest since June 8.

What’s driving Treasurys?

Stimulus negotiations managed to grab the attention of jaded market participants after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed down from her previously imposed deadline of Tuesday for a pre-election deal to be agreed in principle.

She said the bill would need to be written before the end of the week if was to get passed by chambers of Congress next week.

Investors are pessimistic on the potential for a pre-election agreement on a coronavirus relief package but are still hoping for a late breakthrough.

In U.S. economic data, housing starts in September increased 1.9% to run at annualized pace of 1.415 million.

MarketWatch-polled analysts had penciled in a forecast of 1.450 million.

On Monday, the NAHB home builders’ index hit a record in October as buyers continued to snap up new properties.

As for the Federal Reserve, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans called for lawmakers to pass additional stimulus measures to support the economy, while Fed vice chairman for supervision Randal Quarles said the market turmoil earlier in the year revealed weaknesses in the U.S. financial system.

What did market participants’ say?

“Short term, the market will continue to watch the dynamics in Washington but should be more resigned to no deal before the election,” said Gregory Faranello, head of U.S. rates at AmeriVet Securities. ... ond-report
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"Fed’s Evans says fiscal and health policies more important now than further central bank action"

By Greg Robb

Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 2:55 p.m. ET

With interest rates close to zero, what more could the U.S. central bank do if the economy needs a boost?

In the current circumstances, the Fed can’t do as much as congressional lawmakers and public-health officials, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said Tuesday.

“This is a public health safety shock."

"This is a lot about confidence of consumers, households and businesses being able to go out and do commerce."

"We really need fiscal and public health authorities to be supporting and improving the economic environment,” Evans said during a talk sponsored by the Detroit Economic Club.

The Fed is already buying $120 billion of Treasurys and mortgage-related debt per month to support financial markets and the economy.

That’s a larger pace than during the financial crisis.

The Fed could eventually decide to buy more assets, Evans said.

But the other government actions are more important, he said.

“This is kind of countercultural,” Evans said, because monetary policy makers don’t often say fiscal policy is so important, the Chicago Fed president said.

Fed officials will meet on Nov. 4-5, right after the presidential election, to set monetary policy.

Some experts think the Fed might decide to concentrate their Treasury purchases at the long-end of the curve.

The outcome of the ongoing talks between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on another stimulus bill may play a role in any decision.

Earlier this month, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told lawmakers that the risk of doing too little to help the economy was larger than the risk of doing too much.

Stocks were higher on Tuesday on hopes of a fiscal stimulus agreement.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 278 points. ... 1603220122
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Post by thelivyjr »


"Housing starts rise nearly 2% in September, driven by a building boom in the Northeast"

By Jacob Passy

Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 8:41 a.m. ET

U.S. home builders started construction on homes at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.42 million in September, representing a 1.9% increase from the previous month's downwardly-revised figure, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

The modest increase in housing starts was fully driven by a 8.5% uptick in single-family starts, as multifamily construction activity dipped once again.

Home construction activity soared in the Northeast in particular.

Permitting for new homes occurred at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.55 million, up more than 5% from August.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected housing starts to occur at a pace of 1.45 million and building permits to come in at a pace of 1.52 million. ... 2020-10-20
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Post by thelivyjr »


"Oil prices end at 1-week low as demand worries overshadow decline in U.S. crude supplies"

By Myra P. Saefong, and William Watts

Last Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 at 3:27 p.m. ET
First Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 7:53 a.m. ET

Oil futures declined Wednesday, sending U.S. and global benchmark prices to their lowest settlements in over a week.

U.S. government data showed that domestic crude supplies fell for a second week in a row, but by less than the market expected and failing to ease pressure from concerns over weaker demand.

The rising cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and Europe, in particular, have led to the potential for more economic shutdowns, which can impede demand for energy.

The less-than-expected crude inventory draw reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration Wednesday is “relevant” to the market, Lukman Otunuga, senior research analyst at FXTM, told MarketWatch.

However, “oil prices remain more concerned with rising coronavirus cases across the globe and demand-side fears.”

West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery fell $1.67, or 4%, to settle at $40.03 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

From a technical perspective, a “move back below $40 could re-open the doors towards $38,” said Otunuga.

December Brent crude, the global benchmark, lost $1.43, or 3.3%, at $41.73 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

Both WTI and Brent crude saw their lowest front-month settlements since Oct. 12, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

On Wednesday, the EIA reported that U.S. crude inventories fell by 1 million barrels for the week ended Oct. 16.

That followed a 3.8 million-barrel decline the week before.

On average, analysts polled by S&P Global Platts forecast a weekly decrease of 1.9 million barrels, while the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday reported an increase of 584,000 barrels.

The EIA data also showed crude stocks at the Cushing, Okla., storage hub edged up by 1 million barrels for the week.

Total U.S. oil production fell by 600,000 barrels to 9.9 million barrels amid the effects of Gulf of Mexico shut-ins tied to Hurricane Delta earlier this month.

Gasoline supply, meanwhile, climbed by 1.9 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles fell by 3.8 million barrels last week, the EIA said.

The S&P Global Platts survey had shown expectations for supply declines of 1.6 million barrels for gasoline and 3 million barrels for distillates.

On Nymex, November gasoline fell by 4% to $1.1403 a gallon and November heating oil shed 2.9% to $1.1399 a gallon.

Despite the pullback for oil, traders may find some encouragement from prospects for another U.S. stimulus package and the recent committee meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies, together known as OPEC+.

OPEC compliance with production cuts is “widely expected to protect the downside for oil prices,” said Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at axi, in a Wednesday note.

“While it is perhaps a bit early to consider modifying the existing production cut plan, this may explain some of the negative sentiment in oil recently,” he said.

Still, “suppose the ramp-up of Libyan production and the global demand recovery pace is a problem for the oil price then expect, as most oil traders do, a slower return of shut-in OPEC+ production,” said Innes.

“This seems likely to be addressed at the full OPEC+ meeting” on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

For now, the current OPEC+ agreement calls for output cuts of 7.7 million barrels a day through December, which will then taper to 5.8 million barrels a day starting in January.

OPEC+ could move to delay the relaxed curbs at any point, said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda.

He points out that by the next meeting, “they’ll know who the U.S. President is going to be for the next four years, how bad the second wave [of COVID-19 infections] is and how quickly Libya is ramping up production.”

Meanwhile, natural-gas futures were a standout on Nymex, with the November contract moving up by 3.8% to $3.023 per million British thermal units.

That was the highest front-month contract settlement since January 2019.

“The market is moving higher on the cold weather outlook which will boost demand” and liquefied natural-gas exports, said Dan Flynn, an analyst at The Price Futures Group. ... od=markets
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Post by thelivyjr »


"10-year Treasury yield holds at mid-June high as stimulus talks draw focus"

By Sunny Oh

Last Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 at 3:51 p.m. ET
First Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 8:48 a.m. ET

U.S. Treasury yields rose Wednesday, but were off session highs, as investors held out hope for a fiscal stimulus deal after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats and the Trump administration had made progress in recent talks.

What are Treasurys doing?

The 10-year Treasury note yield rose 1.9 basis points to a June high of 0.815%, after trading overnight as high as 0.836%, while the 30-year bond yield added 2.4 basis points to 1.627%, also a June high.

The 2-year note rate edged 0.2 basis point up to 0.147%.

What’s driving Treasurys?

Pelosi indicated the latest talks with the Trump administration on Tuesday had inched forward, saying that both sides had found “common ground as we move closer to an agreement.”

Pelosi spoke again with Mnuchin on Wednesday.

But news reports say Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told the White House not to push for an agreement that would not pass muster with Republican senators, who would prefer a more smaller package than Democrats and the Trump administration have touted.

This comes after McConnell promised to vote on any bill agreed by Democrats and the White House.

Federal Reserve Gov. Lael Brainard said if lawmakers did not come up with a stimulus package soon, it could harm the economy’s progress.

Underlining the precarious backdrop, the Fed’s Beige Book publication, a collection of anecdotes from businesses across the country, showed the recovery in economic activity was tepid.

Investors digested an auction for $22 billion of 20-year U.S. Treasury notes in the afternoon.

The earlier selloff in the morning cheapened bond prices, helping to lure buyers.

What did market participants say?

“U.S. fiscal stimulus talks have been a market driver for some time now and the latest developments – House Speaker Pelosi expressing some optimism on a deal being agreed by the end of this week – has given a small boost” to stocks and yields, said Mark Chandler, a rates strategist at RBC Capital Markets. ... od=markets
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Post by thelivyjr »


"Fed’s Beige Book finds limited pace of U.S. economic growth in early October"

By Greg Robb

Last Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 at 4:31 p.m. ET
First Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 2:29 p.m. ET

The outlook:

Economic activity in most parts of the country was “slight to modest,” according to the Federal Reserve’s latest report on economic conditions known as the Beige Book.

What happened:

Some districts report a leveling off of retail sales although demand for autos remained steady.

Low inventories have constrained sales.

Restaurant owners are concerned that cooler weather will slow sales in coming months.

Bank contacts are worried that delinquency rates may rise.

Employment levels were growing across the country but at a slow pace, the report said.

Manufacturing was the most consistent sector to add jobs across the country.

Wages only rose slightly and were often tied to how easy it was for firms to find workers.

Consumer prices rose modestly as construction, manufacturing and retail firms past along higher costs to their customers.

Businesses faced increased costs due to COVID-19.

Big picture:

The report covers the economy through Oct. 9 and is one of the last broad looks at economic conditions ahead of the presidential election on Nov.3.

It paints a fairly tepid picture.

While the U.S. economy has rebounded from the depths of the recession that began in March, many economists see the level of activity plateauing in coming months.

Fed officials have been pressing Congress to pass another coronavirus relief package to help consumers and businesses survive while the coronavirus pandemic continues to constrain activity.

What are they saying?

”The conclusions are consistent with a recovery that continues to advance in broad strokes but inconsistently & with less forward momentum than during the initial powerful rebound in May,” said Krishna Guha, vice chairman of Evercore ISI.

Market reaction:

U.S. stocks closed lower as investors were disappointed about the slow pace of stimulus talks.

The S&P 500 index closed down 7.56 points on Wednesday. ... 1603304961
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Post by thelivyjr »


"Fed’s Brainard says failure of Congress on another fiscal stimulus bill would lead to ‘slower and weaker recovery’"

By Greg Robb

Last Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 at 9:17 a.m. ET
First Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 9:10 a.m. ET

A failure by Congress to pass another coronavirus relief measure may damage the economy, a top Federal Reserve official said Wednesday.

“Apart from the course of the virus itself, the most significant downside risk to my outlook would be the failure of additional fiscal support to materialize,” said Fed Gov. Lael Brainard in a speech to the UK-based Society of Professional Economists annual conference.

“Too little support would lead to a slower and weaker recovery,” she added.

Brainard is the only remaining Fed governor who was appointed by President Barack Obama.

Speculation has picked up recently that she could be offered a top job if Vice President Joe Biden wins the presidential election on Nov.3.

With its benchmark policy interest rate close to zero, Fed officials think fiscal support is the best medicine for the economy.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said earlier this month that there was a greater risk to Congress from doing too little than doing too much.

Talks of a roughly $2 trillion stimulus package continue between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Tuesday afternoon that the talks would continue because they were making some progress.

Senate Republicans are split over whether to support another fiscal stimulus measure.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged Trump not to support any stimulus legislation until after the election.

In her remarks, Brainard said she was concerned that the recent improvements in the labor market was likely to slow.

She noted that the number of permanent job losers has been rising.

“Targeted” support from Congress could turn the “uneven” recovery into a “broad-based” recovery, Brainard said.

Many U.S. households are “cash-constrained,” she said.

“With unemployment and reduced hours likely to persist, many of these households are unlikely to be able to sustain recent levels of consumption without additional fiscal support as well as extended loan forbearance and eviction moratoriums,” she said.

The financial security of displaced workers will depend importantly on whether unemployment benefits will be extended or supplemented – and if this will occur before any remaining savings accrued from earlier coronavirus relief, is exhausted, she added.

Dow futures struggled for direction ahead of the fiscal stimulus talks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 113.37 to finish at 28,308.79 on Tuesday. ... 1603285840
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Post by thelivyjr »

MARKETWATCH Market Snapshot

"Dow ends nearly 100 points lower as fiscal stimulus talks remain key focus"

By Joy Wiltermuth and Andrea Riquier

Last Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 at 5:25 p.m. ET
First Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 5:24 p.m. ET

U.S. stock benchmarks closed lower Wednesday, as investors looked to Washington for signs of progress that a fiscal stimulus deal might materialize before the Nov. 3 election.

Drama playing out between members of Congress and the White House over additional pandemic aid overshadowed modestly positive economic data from the Federal Reserve and fresh corporate earnings.

How did major benchmarks fare?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 97.97 points, or 0.4%, to end at 28,210.82, while the S&P 500 fell 7.56 points, 0.2%, closing at 3,435.56.

The Nasdaq Composite finished 31.80 points lower, or 0.3%, at 11,484.69.

The Dow on Tuesday rose 113.37 points, or 0.4%, to finish at 28,308.79, after rising as high as 28,575.03 earlier in the day.

The S&P 500 added 16.20 points to end at 3,443.12, a gain of 0.5%, while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 37.61 points or 0.3%, to 11,516.49.

What drove the market?

Stocks closed lower Wednesday after struggling for a direction for much of the session as investors looked to Washington for updates on fiscal stimulus talks, which largely overshadowed fresh corporate earnings and slightly positive economic data.

The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book released Wednesday for early October showed that most regions of the U.S. continued to show slight to modest growth in economic activity.

“There were no negative bombshells,” Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital, told MarketWatch, said of the Fed’s survey, but adding that the spotlight mostly was on Washington.

“The market is totally focused on a further aid package and really not paying as much attention to earnings, which, so far, haven’t been all that bad,” Cardillo said.

He did point to higher 10-year Treasury yields and the dollar’s decline on Wednesday that might suggest the U.S. sees “some sort of announcement” on a stimulus package soon.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. reportedly urged Republicans and the White House against striking a big coronavirus deal with Democrats before the Nov. 3 election, according to news reports.

But both sides played down the need for a vote before Election Day, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin engaged in further negotiations Wednesday.

“I don’t think the Senate, in the end, will defy the White House” if Mnuchin manages to reach an agreement with Pelosi, said John Carey, director of equity income at Amundi Pioneer, in an interview.

But Carey also warned of ongoing jitters as parts of Europe and the U.S. go on high alert amid rising COVID-19 infections and the arrival of colder weather.

And the election remains just around the corner.

“The markets are so focused on the election, but this is what’s driving the day-to-day,” said Keith Lerner, chief market strategist for Truist/SunTrust Advisory Services, said of stimulus talks.

“I don’t think it’s fatal to the economy to wait until after the election.”

“The markets are so focused on the election, but this is what’s driving the day-to-day,” said Keith Lerner, chief market strategist for Truist/SunTrust Advisory Services, said of stimulus talks.

“I don’t think it’s fatal to the economy to wait until after the election.”

But he also sees any volatility as a good opportunity to buy on any dips, and possibly to start rotating toward cyclical sectors like industrials and materials.

U.S. corporate earnings reporting season remains in full swing as well.

Results from closely watched Netflix Inc. disappointed investors after Tuesday’s closing bell, reflecting a slowdown in new subscribers and a wide miss on earnings.

Shares in the video streaming giant closed down 6.9%, but still up more than 50% in the year to date as pandemic lockdowns fueled demand.

Several Federal Reserve officials also spoke Wednesday.

Gov. Lael Brainard, in remarks to the Society of Professional Economists in the U.K., said the U.S. would be in for “a slower and weaker recovery” if Congress failed to pass another aid package.

Later, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said the central bank could do a better job of communicating its policy goals to the general public.

Which companies were in focus?

Shares of Verizon Communications Inc. were 0.9 % lower after beating on earnings, but missing on revenue.

The telecom company raised its outlook.

Shares of Biogen Inc. fell 0.7% after the pharmaceutical company missed Wall Street estimates for earnings.

Abbot Laboratories Wednesday reported earnings that topped forecasts, and offered rosy full-year guidance.

But shares slipped 2.2%.

AutoNation Inc. blew away earnings estimates.

Shares were 1.9% higher.

AstraZeneca shares closed 1.2% lower after Brazilian health authorities said on Wednesday that a volunteer in a clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by and Oxford University died, according to Reuters.

Pinterest Inc. shares soared 9% Wednesday after BofA Securities’ Justin Post turned bullish on the photo and ideas-sharing platform, following blowout quarterly results from Snap Inc.

Shares of social-media company Snap Inc. rose 28.3% after the company smashed expectations for revenue and user growth while posting a surprise adjusted profit.

United Airlines Holdings, Inc. shares closed 1.4% lower, despite its rollout of a digital “health pass” pilot program to try to accelerate a safer opening of international borders.

How did other markets trade?

In global equities, the Shanghai Composite closed down 0.1%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.8% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index advanced 0.3%.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 Europe closed down 1.3%, while London’s FTSE 100 slid 1.9%.

Oil futures closed lower, with the U.S. benchmark down $1.67, or 4%, to finish at $40.03 a barrel.

Gold futures finished up $14.10 or 0.7%, at $1,929.50 an ounce.

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index, a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was down 0.5%.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was 1.9 basis points higher at 0.815%, near its highest since June 9 on stimulus hopes.

Yields and bond prices move in opposite directions.

William Watts contributed reporting ... od=markets
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Post by thelivyjr »

"Albany Common Council seeks outside help to deal with violence - Police arrest three in connection with Monday drive-by"

Steve Hughes, Albany, New York Times Union

Oct. 21, 2020
Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 12:16 p.m.

ALBANY – Common Council members all but demanded the city bring in outside law enforcement agencies to help deal with a historically violent year in its borders.

Councilors spoke in favor of the move, with one going as far as to call on the city to declare a state of emergency after two men were wounded in a drive-by shooting in the city’s South End while the Council was meeting Monday evening.

The shooting on Mount Hope Drive was the fifth shooting in 48 hours and at least the third time this year six or more people had been shot within a two-day span in the city.

At least 116 people have been shot in the city so far this year, with 16 homicides.

Law enforcement officials believe much of the violence is tied to gang encounters in between groups in Albany as well feuds with gangs in Troy.

The city needs to realize it has a gang problem and to rely on outside law enforcement, such as the Albany County Sheriff's Department, to help deal with it, said Council President Corey Ellis.

“We’ve heard the chief say sheriff deputies don’t know the city, which I disagree with,” he said.

“Every hand should be on deck and if not, we should know why.”

Councilman Owusu Anane went further.

“As a result of these unprecedented shootings, I think we need to look at calling a state of emergency to address the frequent violence that is occurring in our streets,” he said.

Other councilmembers noted that for months they had been talking about rising violence in their neighborhoods and welcomed conversations about further resources.

“We need resources out there,” said Councilwoman Sonia Frederick, who represents part of the South End.

“We need to address this issue because this continues to happen.”

On Tuesday, Sheriff Craig Apple expressed frustration at the mounting toll the violence was taking on the city.

He said he had spoken with several county legislators who represent the city who were concerned, and that he was considering sending in more deputies as a preventative measure.

Since June, 24 deputies have been riding with police in their patrol vehicles but have not been doing their own patrols in the city.

Those deputies are expected to stay in the city until the city’s police academy class graduates in December.

“I think we need to more and come up with a new plan because what we’re doing isn’t working,” he said.

“I think at this point you need a higher police presence, if only as a deterrent.”

The city requested and received assistance earlier this year with deputies and state troopers riding along with city police officers.

Chief Eric Hawkins said he was open to partnering with outside agencies but rejected the idea that the department was not able to properly staff and patrol city streets.

“I think our plan for addressing this is sound,” he said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

“If there are resources out there that can help us address what’s happening out there ... I’m always open to that.”

During that briefing, Hawkins said his officers had made five arrests in connection with shootings on Sunday and Monday and expected a sixth arrest shortly.

“These were some violent individuals that were taken off the street,” he said.

“We’re sending the message that gun violence in our community is unacceptable.”

According to police, roughly 80 minutes after two men were wounded on Mount Hope Drive, an Albany officer and a state trooper saw a vehicle that matched the description of the car involved in the shooting near Clinton Avenue and Quail Street.

The driver, E-Shawn Berkley, 22, of Albany was charged in connection with the shooting with two counts of attempted murder.

He was sent without bail to the Albany County jail.

Shortly after that, detectives stopped another vehicle near North Lake Avenue and West Street.

A 16-year-old passenger was charged after police found a handgun on him.

Police believe Berkley and the teenager were the two who fired in to a group of people on Mount Hope Drive.

The teen, who was not identified, was charged with two counts of attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

Those arrests, Hawkins said, gave police information for a third arrest at a home on Judson Street.

There police charged another 16-year-old after finding a .45 caliber and a 9 mm handgun.

That teen was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of stolen property.

Both teens were held without bail.

Hawkins said police believe at least some of those arrested are connected with other shootings around the city.

Officers also made an arrest in connection with a shooting that occurred early Sunday morning.

An 18-year-old fled from police after they attempted to stop him in connection with the shooting of a 15-year-old. ... 09a3f12c1f
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"10-year Treasury yield extends rise above key 0.80% level after jobless claims drop, stimulus hopes"

By Sunny Oh

Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 3:53 p.m. ET

U.S. Treasury yields rose Thursday, after data showed a fall in weekly jobless claims and lawmakers sparked renewed hope for a coronavirus relief package deal, bolstering confidence that the economic recovery.

What are Treasurys doing?

The 10-year Treasury note yield rose 3.2 basis points to 0.847%, a mid-June high.

The 2-year note rate edged 0.6 basis point higher to 0.153%.

The 30-year bond yield climbed 3.1 basis points to 1.658%, its highest since June 8.

What’s driving Treasurys?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that negotiations on a spending package were “just about there.”

At the same time, she cautioned that there still were key sticking points preventing an agreement.

Her comments helped to spark a bond selloff and modest stock-market gains on Thursday, with the 10-year Treasury yield pushing beyond the key 0.80% ceiling that has capped the benchmark maturity since June.

Progress continues to be made in the U.S. labor market, with first-time applications for unemployment benefits in the latest weekly period coming in at 787,000, the lowest since March, from 842,000.

Continuing claims dropped 1.02 million to 8.37 million.

Existing-home sales increased for the fourth consecutive month in September, rising 9.4% from August to a seasonally-adjusted, annual rate of 6.54 million.

Meanwhile, the Conference Board’s leading economic index rose 0.7% this month.

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will go head-to-head Thursday night in a debate in Nashville, Tenn., less than two weeks before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Investors are expected to watch the second debate closely, after the first messy face-off in September saw a slide in support for Trump in the polls.

The occasion could offer Trump one of his last chances to improve his re-election chances.

What did market participants say?

“Economic bears, as well as skeptics, of the recovery have been pointing to the stubbornly high jobless claims numbers."

"So, to see a drop to 787,000, it is kind of nice."

"This is a positive number,” said Patrick Leary, chief market strategist at Incapital, in an interview. ... od=markets
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