Stock futures ticked down Monday evening as investors awaited results from the Georgia Senate runoff elections and nervously eyed worsening COVID-19 trends in the U.S. and abroad.
Contracts on the Dow TK, after the index dropped 1.25% during the regular session for its worst start to a year since 2016.
Traders are closely watching developments around Georgiaâ€™s Senate runoffs, with these elections set to determine control over the chamber and the balance of power in Congress. So far, investors have largely assumed that Republicans will maintain control of the Senate, albeit with a very narrow majority, given the partyâ€™s historical tendency to win Senate seats in the state. Still, polls so far have showed a razor thin lead for both Democratic candidates. Voting for the elections ends on Tuesday.
Georgia aside, Republicans so far have 50 seats in the Senate to Democratsâ€™ 48, meaning that a Democratic sweep of both seats in the state would give them a majority, since Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be able to cast tie-breaking votes.
Under a Republican-controlled Congress, President-elect Joe Biden would have less latitude to advance many of his campaign promises, including raising corporate taxes and minimum wages, and unveiling reforms around education, housing and climate change, which could all impact various pockets of the markets. But under a unified Democratic government, a larger additional stimulus package that could further boost the economy in the near-term might transpire.
On balance, Oppenheimer strategist John Stoltzfus said in a note Monday he believed a Democratic sweep in Georgia could spark an as much as 10% decline in the S&P 500 from year-end closing prices.
Meanwhile, concerns around COVID-19 picked back up. Cases in the U.S. have resurged after a holiday lull, as testing ramped back up and infections picked up during travel began to appear. The average daily new cases reported across the country over the past seven days totaled more than 210,000, according to data from the New York Times, bringing the total number of infections in the U.S. to nearly 21 million.
The roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine has so far only trudged along. Though 15.4 million doses of the vaccines had been delivered to states as of Monday morning, just over 4.5 million initial doses had been administered. Still, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, suggested the U.S. would be able to ramp up vaccinations to 1 million per day in the next few months.
In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the whole country to return to a third lockdown through at least mid-February in an attempt to bring the unbridled spread of COVID-19 as well as the new variant under control. The new variant of the coronavirus originally found in the U.K. was also identified for the first time in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed Monday, with the state joining California, Colorado and Florida in having a confirmed case of the more contagious version of the virus.
6:13 p.m. ET Monday: Stock futures tick down after selloff
Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:13 p.m. ET Monday:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,690.5, down 1.75 points or 0.05%
Dow futures (YM=F): 30,081.00, down 23 points or 0.04%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F):Â 12,637.50, down 12 points or 0.09%