Wall Street had Georgia squarely on its mind Tuesday night, with equity futures and bonds mostly in the crosshairs as investors eyed dual contests for key Senate seats coming down to razor-thin margins in early returns.
MarketWatch’s Victor Reklatis reported that analysts are describing the Georgia races as “about as close as you can get,” and there are expectations that the winners won’t be declared until Wednesday morning.
Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff was nearly deadlocked with incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue, with nearly 70% of the vote counted, after enjoying a handy lead earlier, according to data aggregated by the Associated Press.
In the other runoff, Democrat Raphael Warnock was also nearly level against incumbent GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
The Senate races are runoffs from the November general election, when none of the candidates hit the 50% threshold required to be declared winner.
At stake for the markets is the prospect of a slim Democratic majority in the Senate if candidates can upend GOP incumbents.
Republicans currently have a 51-48 majority in the Senate and if the party wins at least one of the seats, Senate Republicans will likely block further fiscal aid packages and crimp any Democratic plans for expansive spending after President-elect Joe Biden takes office, experts said.
A Democratic sweep in Georgia, however, would give that party virtual control of that chamber because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would cast tiebreaking votes.
Futures for the S&P 500 index ESH21, -0.55% ES00, -0.55% were off 0.4%, while those for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMH21, -0.23% YM00, -0.23% were virtually flat but tilted lower, and Nasdaq-100 futures NQH21, -1.13% NQ00, -1.13% were off 1.2% late Tuesday.
However, some of the biggest moves were emanating from the bond market, with the 10-year Treasury yield TMUBMUSD10Y, 0.986% knocking on the door of 1%, at around 0.985%, as prices fell, after rates finished at 0.955%, marking its highest 3 p.m. Eastern close since Dec. 4, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The 30-year Treasury bond TMUBMUSD30Y, 1.745% also was up nearly 4 basis points yielding 1.744% vs. an afternoon close at 1.705%, also its highest rate in a month.
For the bond market, Democratic wins could add to the bearish pressure on Treasurys as analysts say inflation expectations have risen in response as Congress may be more inclined to pass additional fiscal spending measures with a majority, which would weigh on bond prices, dragging yields up.
It is nearly impossible to surmise what outcome Wall Street deems is best suited to push stocks further higher in 2021. Last year, market participants had been wagering that a Biden presidential victory, coupled with Democrats achieving a majority in the Senate, would provide the best scenario for additional financial relief measures to help sustain the economy’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, a blue wave failed to manifest and markets surged into the final weeks of 2020 regardless.