Dow futures rise 600 points as Senate haggles over virus bill

Commuters move past the U.S. Capitol Dome during the first evening of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial January 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. Senators are expected to vote on the rules for the impeachment trial, which is expected to last three to five weeks.

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Futures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes posted a modest rise in overnight trade on Monday evening.

As of 9:20 p.m., Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 484 points, implying an opening gain of around 519 points. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures also pointed to opening gains.

The overnight moves followed yet another stormy day on Wall Street on Wednesday as investors swung back to pessimism and pushed the major indexes to new multiyear lows.

The Dow dropped 582.05 points, or 3%, on Monday and remained on pace to clinch its worst calendar month since 1931. The S&P 500 dropped 2.9% to 2,237 and closed 34% below a record set last month as both indexes sank further into bear markets amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Earlier in Monday’s session, a bill that would authorize giant fiscal spending to stimulate the economy failed to clear a key procedural hurdle. The Senate disagreement came despite Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s optimism to CNBC’s Jim Cramer that Congress was “very close” to getting a fiscal package done, noting it must be pushed forward “today.”

“We’re using some of the funds we have, but we need Congress to approve additional funds today so that we can move forward and support American workers and the American economy,” Mnuchin said. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said Monday afternoon after the second failure that he and Mnuchin would meet again to try and work out a deal over the course of Monday night.

Democrats have criticized the $500 billion fund that the Republican proposal sets aside for distressed businesses, calling it a bailout fund “with no strings attached.”

Two Senate aides told CNBC that there will be no more Senate votes Monday as negotiations continue.

Helping to keep Monday’s losses in check was an announcement from the Federal Reserve, which said it would embark on an open-ended asset purchase program. The central bank said the program will run in the “amounts needed to support smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions and the economy.”

The spread of the coronavirus also forced the New York Stock Exchange to conduct its first day of fully electronic trading. The exchange said last week that two people tested positive for the disease at screenings it conducted this week.

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