Tech-Stock Futures Fall as Democrats Lead in Georgia Elections

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Futures tied to the technology-heavy Nasdaq-100 index fell 2.1% on expectations that a Democrat-controlled Congress would lead to higher taxes and tighter regulations on tech giants. S&P 500 futures were down 0.3%.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 0.3%, while those tied to the Russell 2000, which tracks smaller stocks, jumped 2.7%. Both indexes are filled with companies beaten down by the coronavirus pandemic that stand to benefit from higher fiscal spending.

A change of control in the Senate is seen by some as a catalyst that could shift the types of stocks favored by investors away from names that dominated last year’s pandemic market rally. Big tech names were getting hit hardest in premarket trading.

Amazon,

Alphabet,

Netflix

and

Facebook

were all off more than 2% ahead of the opening bell. “The negativity today is concentrated in these large cap, growth stocks, where, frankly, valuations are already quite high,” said Mike Bell, a global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

Meanwhile, stocks hit hard by the pandemic such as banks, industrials and small companies were poised to rise.

Bank of America

and

Wells Fargo

shares rose 2% premarket. “You are going to see the market viewing this as positive for the value stocks because of fiscal stimulus,” Mr. Bell said.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose above 1% for the first time since March. The yield, which rises as the price falls, was up at 1.031% from 0.955% on Tuesday.

In the elections in Georgia, two races that will determine which party has control of the Senate, the Democrats flipped one Republican seat and maintained a narrow lead in the second race, which was too close to call.

Investors are closely following the results, betting that a “blue sweep,” Democratic control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, would make it easier for President-elect Joe Biden’s administration to pass new legislation.

Such an outcome could scramble investors’ expectations for government policy. It would increase Mr. Biden’s chances of pushing through higher corporate and capital-gains taxes. He has promised greater scrutiny of tech giants that have powered the stock-market rally in recent years and an expansion of health-care benefits.

A voter casts a provisional ballot for the Senate runoff elections at a polling location in Atlanta.



Photo:

Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg News

A Democratic-controlled Washington would also boost the possibility of more fiscal stimulus, said

Seema Shah,

chief strategist at Principal Global Investors. That will help lift government bond yields, which track expectations for growth and inflation. More government spending supports stocks hit hardest by the pandemic, such as airlines and car companies.

But with Democratic control of the Senate likely to be razor thin, the legislative agenda would be tempered, she said.

“Once the clouds have cleared, the market will realize that, yes, this is a blue sweep but it is a very, very marginal one,” she said. “It is certainly not the status quo we have been used to but I also wouldn’t expect that much of a change.”

Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock is set to be the first Black American to represent Georgia in the Senate, as the AP declared him the winner of a close runoff election over Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler. Which party will control the chamber is still to be determined. Photo: Raphael Warnock/YouTube

In overseas markets, European stocks rose, with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.9%.

Treasury yields dragged European government bond yields higher, with the German benchmark 10-year bund yielding minus 0.54%, from minus 0.58% Tuesday.

European bank stocks jumped as higher bond yields tend to benefit their profit margins.

Standard Chartered

led the gains, rising 9%.

Barclays

and

HSBC

each rose more than 7%.

The Federal Reserve will release minutes of its December policy meeting at 2 p.m. ET. The central bank used the meeting to say purchases of government debt and mortgage securities would continue until “substantial” progress toward broader employment and inflation targets had been met.

Investors will be parsing data from ADP for clues on the health of the labor market ahead of weekly jobless claims data Thursday and the employment report due on Friday. The figures, due at 8:15 a.m. ET, are expected to show the nonfarm private sector added 60,000 jobs in December, which would be a sharp slowdown from the previous month and suggest a recovery in the labor market was cooling.

Data on activity in the service sector and on factory orders are also due at 9:45 a.m. ET and 10 a.m. ET, respectively.

In commodity markets, Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil, rose 1.3% to $54.30 barrel. Gold prices rose 0.3% to $1,960.80 a troy ounce.

In Asia, stock markets were mostly lower. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.4% while South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.8%. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng was up 0.2% while China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.6%.

Write to Will Horner at William.Horner@wsj.com

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