Congress Faces Shutdown Deadline as Lawmakers Scramble to Secure COVID Relief Deal

CNBC is reporting late Sunday afternoon some good news. The long-awaited stimulus deal could be in reach after months of failed negotiations, and Moderna’s vaccine started shipping today to sites across the nation. Both events could have an impact on the Asian and European markets early Monday, and U.S. futures during the pre-market session.

In the cash market on Friday, all three major U.S. stock indexes finished in the red. The benchmark S&P 500 Index settled at 3709.41, down 13.07 or -0.39%. The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 30179.05, down 124.32 or -0.45% and the tech-weighted NASDAQ Composite closed at 12755.64, down 9.11 or -0.08%.

McConnell Expects to Have Final Stimulus Agreement Nailed Dow in Hours

Congress reached a compromise in a last-minute battle over the Fed’s emergency lending powers, with votes in the House and Senate on a stimulus deal possible sometime today, CNBC reported.

Though an agreement is in reach, lawmakers do not have one in hand yet, and it’s possible that disagreements could arise again today and delay talks – which has happened repeatedly in the past.

Lawmakers are tying stimulus talks to broader government funding legislation. They face a deadline of 12:01 a.m. ET Monday to avert a government shutdown.

House Expects to Vote on COVID Relief, Government Funding

The House expects to vote on a coronavirus relief and government funding package later today, according to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office.

Congressional leaders are working through the final details of an expected $900 billion pandemic aid proposal and could announce a deal in the coming hours.

A compromise over a Republican-backed provision to limit the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending powers, which held up a deal at the last minute, cleared the way for Congress to move toward an agreement.

Lawmakers have to move quickly to both release legislation and push it through both chambers of Congress.

If Republicans and Democrats reach a deal, the House would move to approve it first, followed by the Senate. Any one senator can hold up swift passage of legislation.

More delays in putting together a bill may require Congress to approve another short-term measure to keep the government open.

Short-Term Impact

On paper, the passage of a bill to provide new fiscal stimulus should be a market moving event with gains likely in stocks and gold because of the new liquidity hitting the market and a sell-off in the U.S. Dollar for the same reason.

However, the news has been telegraphed for weeks so we could see a spike in prices following the announcement then a return to more normal price activity shortly thereafter. Furthermore, there is risk that the news will become a “buy the rumor, sell the fact” situation. With stocks and gold moving higher initially then turning lower for the session. The dollar could actually rebound if stocks tumble after hitting a 2-1/2 year low last week.

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