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Tax Reform Remains in Focus for U.S. Financial Markets

Financial Markets in Holding Pattern Ahead of Tax Bill

There remains much speculation as to whether the GOP will be able to achieve its goal of implementing the largest restructuring of the US tax code in nearly four decades.  Republican tax negotiators in the House currently hold the baton, with the intention of bringing the plan to the floor for a vote next week.  If the measure is approved through the Republican-controlled House next week, the GOP would then shift its focus to the more daunting task of getting a bill passed by the Senate (targeted timing prior to Thanksgiving), where Republicans only hold 52 of the 100 votes.  From there, the House-Senate conference committee would need to reconcile the two bills and have a final version on President Trump’s desk targeted for some point in December.  Adding to the complexity, December will be a busy month for Congress, where funding for hurricane disaster relief, Mexico border-wall construction, the government budget and outstanding Obamacare costs will all be requiring Congressional attention.

 

 

US Treasurys held within a tight range for the session, with the yield on the 10-year note edging just below 2.32%.  Major equity indices were mixed, with the DJIA adding 0.05% and the S&P 500 (-0.05%) and Nasdaq (-0.30%) slightly lower.  The US dollar reversed yesterday’s decline, finishing up 0.3% against major currencies for the trading session.  In commodities, crude oil futures took a breather from the +3% rally which followed a series of anti-corruption arrests made in Saudi Arabia that put $33 billion of personal wealth at risk.  A barrel of WTI crude settled 0.7% lower to just under $57.

 

 

Strong Labor Data…What Else is New?

The Labor Department’s JOLTS report headlined an otherwise light day of economic releases.  Job openings during September held near record highs at 6.093 million, outpacing expectations of 6.075 million, while the number of hirings declined 2.7% to 5.273 million.  Openings in accommodation and food services decreased at a rate of 111,000, which is the largest decline since 2001, as the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma continue to be seen in the job market data.  The professional and business services segment reported the largest uptick in openings at +156,000.  Also detailed in the report, the quits rate, an often-referenced measure of confidence in the jobs market, rose steadily to 2.2% in September, a 0.1% increase from the previous month.

 

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