House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — frequent rivals but proven dealmakers — spoke on the phone Thursday, a conversation that came the day after Pelosi signaled a willingness to make major concessions in search of a COVID rescue package in the $1 trillion range. Pelosi's spokesman announced the telephone conversation, tweeting that it was “about their shared commitment to completing an omnibus and COVID relief as soon as possible." With COVID-19 caseloads spiraling and the daily death toll equaling records, the momentum for finally passing a second major relief bill is undeniably building, especially after President-elect Joe Biden and top congressional Democrats endorsed a $908 billion bipartisan framework to build an agreement.
U.S. employers likely hired the fewest workers in six months in November, hindered by a resurgence in new COVID-19 cases that, together with a lack of more government relief money, threatens to reverse the recovery from the pandemic recession. The Labor Department's closely watched employment report on Friday will only cover the first two weeks of November, when the current wave of coronavirus infections started. Infections, hospitalizations and death rates have sky-rocketed, leading some economists to anticipate a drop in employment in December or January as more jurisdictions impose restrictions on businesses and consumers shun crowded places like restaurants.
Gold prices firmed on Friday, set for their first weekly gain in four, as growing optimism over a U.S. fiscal stimulus deal pressured the dollar and boosted the metal's appeal as an inflation hedge. Spot gold rose 0.2 % to $1,843.99 per ounce by 0310 GMT. U.S. gold futures were up 0.4% at $1,847.90.