Stock futures fluctuated Wednesday morning as traders awaited final results of the Georgia Senate runoff elections, which will determine control of Congress and shape policy decisions for the coming years.
Contracts on the Dow gained 0.3%, or about 100 points, with two hours left until the opening bell. Contracts on the Nasdaq sold off, however, and sank 1.3%, as markets took the increasing odds of a Democratic sweep in the Georgia Senate races as a possible sign for more anti-trust action against Big Tech companies. U.S. crude oil prices held above $50 per barrel after breaking above that level for the first time since February 2020 on Tuesday, after Saudi Arabia unexpectedly agreed to cut oil output by one million barrels per day to help support languishing energy prices.
Political uncertainty has gripped U.S. equities over the past several sessions, with the Georgia Senate run-off elections a central event. Democrat Raphael Warnock edged out incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler to win one of the two seats in the state, the Associated Press reported Wednesday morning. This would give Democrats 49 seats in the Senate to Republicansâ€™ 50, with one seat still hanging in balance. The Georgia Senate race between incumbent Republican David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff remained too close to all as of Wednesday morning.
Strategists have largely taken hold of the notion that a Democratic sweep of both seats in Georgia would be a market negative event due to the implications for higher corporate taxes and bigger government spending. The S&P 500 could see a downdraft of as much as 10%, according to one prediction from Oppenheimer.
â€œThe lights … may be dimmed a little bit on the market run weâ€™ve been having depending on what the outcome is. I think from our perspective, if you do see Democrats win both of those seats with a 50-50, very slim majority in the Senate, we could see some action that could result in a tax increase really in late 2021 or 2022,â€ Chris Meekins, healthcare policy analyst Raymond James, told Yahoo Finance. â€œBut in the near-term, youâ€™re more likely to get fiscal stimulus, youâ€™re more likely to see some potential nominations get through that may be more progressive. So itâ€™s a bit of a mixed bag. I think it will take some time for the market to interpret what can get done versus what wonâ€™t be able to get done.â€Â
Others also suggested marketsâ€™ fears over the outcome of the election may be overblown.
â€œEven if the Democrats win two seats, which would give them the Senate in a 50-50 tie, there are a couple of Democrats who are quite moderate â€” youâ€™ve got Joe Manchin of West Virginia, youâ€™ve got Jon Tester of Montana,â€ Greg Valliere, AGF chief U.S. policy strategist, told Yahoo Finance on Tuesday. â€œThose two moderate Democrats I think will not going along with everything the Democrats want if they control the Senate. So no matter how you slice it, I think youâ€™re looking at a pretty centrist environment for the financial market.â€
7:53 a.m. ET: Nasdaq sells off Wednesday morning, with Democratic sweep in Georgia â€˜a clear negative for Big Techâ€™: Wedbush
Contracts on the Nasdaq came under the most pressure of the three major indices Wednesday morning, with the increasing odds of a Democratic sweep in Georgia weighing on the tech-heavy index, according to many analysts. Each of the FAANG stocks â€“ Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX) and Alphabet (GOOGL) â€“ were lower by more than 1.5% in early trading.
â€œTo be blunt, its a clear negative for Big Tech as ultimately with a Senate now likely controlled by Democrats we would expect much more scrutiny and sharper teeth around FAANG names with potential (although still a low risk) legislative changes to current anti-trust laws now on the table,â€ Dan Ives of Wedbush wrote in a note Wednesday morning.
â€œWhile momentum for business model breakups of FAANG names have been gaining steam over the past few years within the Beltway and EU, it lacked any political strength to make significant changes outside of political grandstanding events,â€ he said. â€œThis all changes now in the eyes of the Street with the risk of business model scrutiny from tech giants Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook now in a brighter spotlight, which adds more risk to the overall tech sector in our opinion.â€
â€œWe still believe with a slim majority that major legislative changes/breakups to Big Tech will find difficulty becoming a reality, however the risk of business model changes is now clearly in the conversation,â€ he added.
7:23 a.m. ET Wednesday: Stocks mixed as Georgia runoff results trickle in
Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:23 a.m. ET Wednesday:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,715.75, down 2.5 points or 0.07%
Dow futures (YM=F): 30,395.00, up 110 points or 0.36%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F):Â 12,623.00, down 170.5 point or 1.33%
Crude (CL=F): +$0.26 (+0.52%) to $50.19 a barrel
Gold (GC=F): -$5.20 (-0.27%) to $1,949.20 per ounce
10-year Treasury (^TNX): +5.9 bps to yield 1.013%
6:02 p.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures open flat
Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:02 p.m. ET Tuesday:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,715.5, down 2.75 points or 0.07%
Dow futures (YM=F): 30,265.00, down 20 points or 0.07%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F):Â 12,794.5, up 1 point or 0.01%