The Senate appears to be putting the finishing touches on its version of the administration's economic stimulus package, and lawmakers seem to be optimistic that a vote can be taken up on the measure sometime late this afternoon.
News of the vote helped equity markets to gain despite a very poor showing in January's employment report, which said that payrolls declined by 598,000 in January and that the unemployment rate had risen by 0.4 percentage points to 7.6%, a sixteen year high. Figures for last year were revised to show an additional 400,000 jobs were lost, which meant that 2008 was the worst year for job losses since records began to be kept in 1937.
In recent trade, all three major indexes were gaining at least 2%. Financials were doing well; the XLF Financial Sector ETF was gaining 4.4% on speculation that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner would announce a plan to shore up ailing U.S. banks on Monday. The dollar was trading in pure risk-acceptance mode, with declines against the entire higher-yielding basket and a gain on the yen. Crude was lower by just over 4% and gold was virtually unchanged on the day.