The daily business briefing: September 17, 2020

Trump calls for Republicans to back more COVID-19 relief spending, Snowflake shares double in biggest software IPO ever, and more

Trump speaks to the press
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

1. Trump urges Republicans to go bigger with coronavirus relief

President Trump on Wednesday urged Republicans to support a larger coronavirus relief package as White House negotiators seek a deal with Democrats. "Go for the higher numbers," Trump tweeted to his fellow Republicans. The GOP-controlled Senate last week tried and failed to pass a $600 billion "skinny" stimulus bill. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, one of the two leading White House negotiators, said he was increasingly optimistic a deal would be possible. A day earlier, the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus released a proposal for about $1.5 trillion in aid to businesses, families, health workers, and others. Leading Democrats rejected the proposal and called for at least $2.2 trillion in spending.

The Wall Street Journal ABC News

2. Snowflake shares double in biggest software IPO ever

Shares of cloud software firm Snowflake more than doubled Wednesday on the stock's opening day, marking the biggest software IPO ever. Snowflake priced its initial public offering at $120 a share, above the expected range of $100 to $110. The initial expectation last month was $75 to $85 a share. Strong demand pushed the shares to an opening price of $245. The stock shot above $300 before settling down and finishing the day at $254, nearly a 112 percent gain. The closing price put the company's value at $70 billion, more than S&P 500 companies such as Hershey and Allstate, and Dow components Walgreens and Travelers. The company raised almost $3.4 billion in the IPO.

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3. Fed to keep interest rates near zero until 2023

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell announced in a Wednesday press conference that the central bank probably wouldn't raise interest rates from near-zero until at least 2023. Rates will remain at this historic low level "until the economy is far along in its recovery," Powell said — although he added that Congress should take some action to make sure that happens. "Overall activity remains well below its level before the pandemic, and the path ahead remains highly uncertain," Powell noted. Until the economy reaches the Federal Reserve Board's "assessments of maximum employment" and inflation hits 2 percent, interest rates will remain low, Powell said. "More fiscal support is likely to be needed," he said, alluding to the fact that Congress still hasn't replaced its stimulus bill that expired at the end of July.

The New York Times The Wall Street Journal

4. Stocks struggle after the Fed's news on rates

U.S. stock index futures fell sharply early Thursday after the Federal Reserve held interest rates steady and said it would likely keep them near zero into 2023 as the central bank tries to nudge inflation up just above 2 percent. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were down by roughly 1 percent several hours before the opening bell. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed down by 0.5 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively, on Wednesday after the Fed's announcement. The Dow dropped sharply from its session high to close up by just 0.1 percent. "The major indices dipped back to their short-term trading range following the Fed's announcements, confirming that bulls are still not out of the woods," said Ken Berman, founder of Gorilla Trades.


5. Trump balks at Oracle proposal, calls for U.S. control of TikTok

President Trump said Wednesday that he wasn't prepared to sign off on ByteDance's proposed partnership with Oracle because it would let the Chinese company keep majority control over its TikTok app's U.S. operations. "Conceptually, I can tell you, I don't like that," Trump said. The president has threatened to shut down TikTok in the United States because he says the Chinese government could access user data, which TikTok denies. Software company Oracle beat out Microsoft in the bidding for TikTok, although Oracle wouldn't acquire the short-video app's U.S. operations outright. Instead, it would take a small stake and act as ByteDance's "trusted technology partner." Trump said Wednesday he wanted an American company to take a majority stake in TikTok to address his data privacy and national security concerns.

NPR The Wall Street Journal

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.