The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits rose to a two-month high last week, stoking fears the COVID-19 pandemic was inflicting lasting damage to the labor market.
A separate report showed manufacturing activity in New York State fell more than expected in October.
“Going into the fall it will be difficult for unemployment to make a lot of positive headway because of the lack of stimulus,” said Christopher C. Grisanti, chief equity strategist, MAI Capital Management in Cleveland.
U.S. President Donald Trump said he is willing to raise his offer of $1.8 trillion for a COVID-19 relief deal with Democrats in Congress, but the idea was shot down by his fellow Republican, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The CBOE volatility index, investors’ fear gauge, hit a one-week high and Wall Street’s indexes dipped for the third straight day. The S&P 500 is down about 3% from its Sept. 2 record high close.
With less than 20 days until the Nov. 3 election, Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are set to hold dueling prime-time town halls on Thursday instead of their second presidential debate, which was canceled after Trump declined to take part in a virtual matchup.
“More of what moves the market will be the crystallizing of who is going to win the presidency, and how close the Senate races are,” said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager at Globalt Investments in Atlanta.
A Biden presidency, coupled with a Democratic Senate, would likely mean a larger fiscal stimulus plan than what a Republicans Senate would agree to. However, Biden is also widely seen on Wall Street as likely to raise taxes.