Global stocks decline as stimulus talks drag on

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Good morning. It’s shaping up to be another risk-off day as COVID cases spike, odds on a stimulus deal sink and election jitters intensify ahead of tonight’s big debate. Even Tesla’s knockout quarter is failing to lift tech stock futures.

Let’s check in on the action.

Markets update

Asia

  • The major Asia indexes are mostly in the red with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng the best of the bunch, clinging to 0.1% gain in afternoon trading.
  • Ant Group, aiming for a record-setting IPO, plans to set its Shanghai listing price next week (the Hong Kong leg hasn’t yet been determined), which means it will start trading just after Election Day.
  • Shares in Cathay Pacific are down for a second straight day after the Hong Kong-based airline announced the layoffs of 8,500 positions and a big restructuring as the COVID crisis ravages its business.

Europe

  • The European bourses fell at the open. The Stoxx Europe 600 was down 0.6% two hours into the trading session.
  • A frightening number of Europe’s small and medium-sized businesses—more than half—fear they’ll go bust in the next year if revenues don’t pick up soon. The most precarious are in Spain, Italy and the U.K. An SME insolvency spike would decimate Europe’s labor market.
  • Speaking of grim stats… Spain (population: 47 million) is the first Western European country to top 1 million COVID cases. France and the U.K. are fast approaching that number as Europe’s second wave intensifies.

U.S.

  • U.S. futures point to another weak open. That’s after the stimulus trade fizzled on Wednesday afternoon. The Nasdaq has now closed in the red six out of the past seven sessions.
  • The on-again-off-again stimulus talks are adding all kinds of volatility to the markets these days. But there’s another cloud hanging over Washington that’s unnerving investors: Election Day uncertainty.
  • Shares of Tesla were up 3.2% in pre-market trading after the EV maker posted big top- and bottom-line beats yesterday. Could a fifth straight profitable quarter be enough for S&P inclusion? A reminder: until now, Tesla’s profits haven’t come from selling cars.

Elsewhere

  • Gold is down, stuck around $1,920/ounce.
  • The dollar is up, climbing as equities fall.
  • Crude is flat, with Brent trading below $42/barrel.

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Buzzworthy

V for Volatility

From peak to trough, the Dow fell 254 points yesterday. (Tuesday was even more volatile.) It could get worse.

On polls, politics and your portfolio

According to Jefferies, here are the sectors that stand to gain/lose from a Biden or Trump victory:

Stimulus, stimulus, stimulus

Two months before Christmas, American families are on the brink of an epic fiscal cliff. According to Goldman Sachs, 41% of households with student loans are skipping or reducing payments. A smaller number are staggering mortgage payments.

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Postscript

It’s Thursday, which means all across the land there’s gnocchi on the menu.

School lunch menus are serious matters in Italy. There are certain dishes—think the dumpling shaped pasta, gnocchi (pronounced: nyy-OAK-ee)—that can only be served on Thursdays, thanks to some kitchen decree passed down a zillion years ago by the powerful nonne (grannies) lobby.

In a land of rule-breakers, nobody would dare question this.

Page one of the kids’ lunch menu for October.

Why am I mentioning this? Because I love gnocchi day.

Buon pranzo!

Bernhard Warner
@BernhardWarner
Bernhard.Warner@Fortune.com

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