Dow futures rise more than 150 points as investors monitor Trump’s health and stimulus talks

President Donald Trump addresses the U.S. public after being hospitalized at Walter Reed. October 3, 2020.

The White House

Stock futures rose early Monday as investors brace for another volatile week with President Donald Trump’s hospitalization adding more uncertainty to the market outlook ahead of Election Day. 

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 150 points, or 0.55%. The move implied an opening gain of about 157 points. The S&P 500 futures rose 0.5%. Nasdaq 100 futures gained 0.9%. 

Trump said in a minute-long video posted on Twitter late Sunday that “we are getting great reports from the doctors.” The president also took a short, last-minute motorcade ride to wave to his supporters standing outside the hospital.

Still, the president doesn’t seem to be out of the woods yet after his doctors said they had begun treating him with dexamethasone, a steroid recommended for severe cases of Covid-19. The president was said to have experienced two drops in his oxygen levels since his diagnosis announcement just before 1 a.m. ET on Friday.

Trump was transferred to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday after he was given the antiviral drug remdesivir. Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said Sunday that his condition has improved and the president may be discharged as soon as Monday.

“This announcement added yet another level of uncertainty to the election…an election that is in itself one of the many uncertainties surrounding the stock market,” Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak, said in a note on Sunday.

After Trump’s diagnosis, former Vice President Joe Biden opened his widest lead in a month in the presidential race with 51% of those polled backing him and 41% saying they would vote for Trump, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sunday from October 2-3.

A win for the former vice president in November could spell headaches for Wall Street in the form of higher taxes and tighter regulations, but some also say it could lead to a bigger fiscal stimulus deal that would be good for stocks. At the same time, a convincing win could ease concerns about a drawn-out or contested election result.

“Markets seem (to) have lowered the chance of prolonged uncertainty post-November 3,” wrote Ajay Rajadhyaksha, head of macro research at Barclays. “Given that Vice President Biden has been ahead in most polls, this suggests that markets are assigning a bit more probability to his win and a bit less to a close and contested outcome.”

‘Get it done’

Trump’s illness, as well as a weak September jobs report, highlighted the urgency for further coronavirus stimulus after a months-long stalemate in Washington. Optimism for reaching a compromise has risen after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled progress on Friday, saying “we continue to work on the text to move quickly to facilitate an agreement.”

Pelosi on Friday called on the industry to delay furloughs, saying relief for airline workers is “imminent.”

Trump on Saturday put pressure on Congress to pass a deal, said in a tweet that lawmakers should “WORK TOGETHER AND GET IT DONE.”

The president’s condition also emphasized the gravity of the pandemic that is still roiling major states and cities in the country. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday that nine ZIP codes in Brooklyn and Queens will most likely shut down on Wednesday due to a recent spike in new cases.

Despite Trump’s shocking news, major averages all eked out modest gains last week. The S&P 500 climbed 1.5% for its first positive week in five.

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