Recent data continue to imply a robust economy

Recent data continue to imply a robust economy, but the recovery has unquestionably shifted into a lower gear amid rising cases. Medical advisers to the FDA recommended approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine last week, clearing the way for FDA emergency authorization. The positive outlook for a subsequent end to the pandemic came against a gloomy set of current milestones, however. A foreseen post-Thanksgiving
surge sent hospitalizations to new highs, while daily U.S. deaths from the virus surpassed 3,000 for the first time.

Stimulus talks took centre stage yet again last week, as a bipartisan group of lawmakers released the broad outlines of a $908 billion package, down considerably from Democrats’ $2 trillion pre-election proposal. Leaders on both sides expressed continuing reservations about the proposal, however, while other lawmakers insisted that any package also include a new set of direct payments to individuals. President Donald Trump signed a one-week stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown. The short-term spending bill extends government funding by a week to December 18 and is aimed at giving lawmakers more time to reach an agreement on Covid relief and broader funding legislation for the new fiscal year. On the economic front, the effect of the latest wave of infections was most evident in weekly jobless claims, which soared from 716,000 to 853,000, the highest level in nearly three months.

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