NEW YORK. October 23, 2020 (AP) — World shares and U.S. futures advanced Friday after President Donald Trump and his challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, faced off in their second and final debate before the Nov. 3 election. Stocks rose Friday in Paris, London and Tokyo but declined in Shanghai. The debate over, investors will again be focused on hopes for another round of aid for the U.S. economy.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said progress was being made on talks to deliver more stimulus but it remains unclear if the Democrats and Republicans will manage to set aside their differences to provide help for businesses and millions of people who have lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. In their debate late Thursday, Trump and his Democratic challenger Biden managed a more substantive exchange than during their first raucous clash several weeks ago.
There were no major market-moving surprises. “The final U.S. presidential debate was less chaotic than the first but offered little new information to inform the result for markets,” Stephen Innes of Axi said in a commentary. “Meanwhile, discussion relevant to the post-election economic outlook was limited, particularly from President Trump.” Futures for the Dow and S&P 500 were both up 0.3%, indicating likely gains on Wall Street.
In Europe, Germany’s DAX gained 1.1% to 12,685 while the CAC 40 in Paris rose 1.4%, to 4,918 as investors welcomed strong corporate earnings from the likes of automaker Daimler and took in their stride a gloomy economic report. The PMI index of business activity for the 19-country eurozone fell to 49.4 points in October from 50.4 in September. The 50-mark separates economic contraction from growth.
The manufacturing sector appeared resilient but the services sector took a big hit as countries imposed new restrictions to fight a new jump in virus infections. “France reported over 40,000 new cases for the first time yesterday. Overall, daily COVID-19 cases are reaching their record number in Europe,” Naeem Aslam of Avatrade.com said in a commentary.
“The situation is not getting out of control yet, but alarm bells have started to ring for sure,” Aslam said. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 1.5% to 5,872 after Japan and the U.K. signed a trade agreement to replace the pact with the EU which will no longer apply after Britain’s exit from the bloc. In Asian trading, Japan’s Nikkei 225 picked up 0.2% to 23,516.59 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.7% to 24,945.08. In Seoul, the Kospi edged 0.2% higher to 2,360.81.
The Shanghai Composite index slipped 1% to 3,278.00. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.1% lower to 6,167.00. Pelosi, the House speaker, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been negotiating daily this week on another dose of stimulus for the economy. “Help is on the way. It will be bigger, it will be better, it will be safer and it will be retroactive,” Pelosi said.
Markets have been gyrating for weeks as investors gauge the chances of the Democrats and Republicans striking a deal on more support for the economy. Time is running out to get something done before the election. Part of a stimulus deal might be extra benefits for workers who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. A report Thursday showed that 787,000 workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, better than the week before but still incredibly high.
In energy markets, U.S. crude oil rose 14 cents to $40.78 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It added 61 cents to $40.64 per barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 16 cents to $42.62 per barrel. The dollar bought 104.76 Japanese yen, down from 104.86 yen late Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1848 from $1.1820.