President Joe Biden and now-former President Donald Trump delivered separate remarks on Wednesday, and the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust SPY traded higher by 1.2% as the transition of power proceeded smoothly in Washington.
Biden’s Words: At his inauguration to become the 46th president of the United States, Biden emphasized a message of unity and integrity.
“On this hallowed ground where, just a few days ago, violence sought to shake the Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries,” Biden said.
Biden specifically mentioned challenges that will be top priorities for his administration, including the ongoing pandemic and the undermining of American institutions and the democratic process. He also spoke about the need for all Americans to try to find common ground with others rather than vilifying them.
“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” Biden said.
The first key policy issue for Biden and a Democratically-controlled Congress will likely be Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package, which includes $1,400 direct payments for individual Americans.
Trump’s Departure: Trump chose to break with tradition and not attend Biden’s inauguration. Former Vice President Mike Pence was in attendance. Trump instead addressed the nation in a brief farewell speech at Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday morning.
"We've accomplished a lot. What we've done has been amazing by any standard," Trump said.
He didn’t mention Biden by name, but he did “wish the new administration great luck and great success.”
“They have the foundation to do something really spectacular,” Trump said.
Biden’s Challenge: Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate, said the pandemic has wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy, putting many Americans in a much worse financial state today than on the day Trump took office in 2017.
“Because the rollout of vaccines has gone more slowly than hoped, the healing of the economy may have also been delayed. Biden’s calls to increase rental assistance, to extend eviction and foreclosure moratoriums as well as to extend relief involving direct federal student loan debt would help buy more time,” Hamrick said.
A recent Bankrate survey found the majority of Americans said the last round of $600 stimulus payments would sustain their finances for less than a month.
Benzinga’s Take: It’s not surprising to see the stock market rally on Inauguration Day given the recent events at the Capitol had created concerns over some form of disruption on Wednesday. Now that investors can officially move past the election and the presidential transition, they can focus on the next near-term market catalysts, which will likely be the stimulus package and the continued rollout of the vaccines.
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