US stocks trade modestly lower ahead of first presidential debate

Trader NYSE green
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., March 17, 2020.

  • Stocks traded lower on Tuesday ahead of the first US presidential debate between Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump.
  • While investor hope for another stimulus bill from Congress has waned as the election has moved closer, House Democrats released a new $2.2 trillion relief package proposal to help combat the economic weakness caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US stocks traded down slightly Tuesday morning ahead of the first presidential debate between Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump.

The heightened politics heading into the November election have reduced investor hope of an additional stimulus package being passed by Congress in recent weeks.

But that hasn’t stopped House Democrats from releasing a new COVID-19 relief package proposal worth $2.2 trillion. The proposal would restore the $600 in additional unemployment benefits, and has many measures designed to appeal to Republicans, including aid to the airline industry.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are going to continue talks today on the stimulus package.

Here’s where US indexes stood soon after the 9:30 a.m. market open on Tuesday:

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According to UBS, investors can expect the presidential debate to produce little of substance in terms of policy. Though who the perceived debate winner is can have an impact.

“Perceptions of performance and whether candidates were able to change the views of floating voters does make a difference,” UBS said. 

One skeptic of additional stimulus from Congress is economist Mohamed El-Erian, who said on Monday that investors shouldn’t hold out hope for additional stimulus from Congress or the Fed. 

Goldman Sachs said that a Democratic sweep in November would be “modestly positive” for US corporate earnings.

Gold rose as much as 0.47%, to $1,890.31 per ounce.

Oil prices slid. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 2%, to $39.76 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, fell 1.8%, to $41.73 per barrel, at intraday lows.

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