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Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Business leaders reacted to the tumultuous presidential debate on Tuesday night between President Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., as concerns mounted that a chaotic race to the November elections would add further turmoil to the markets.

Companies big and small have been on a roller coaster as coronavirus cases in the United States have continued to rise, and policymakers in Washington have inspired little confidence that they are ready to pass additional pandemic relief. After reaching a record high this month, the S&P 500 — an indicator of investor and business sentiment — appears poised to close September with a loss, its first monthly fall since March.

The first presidential debate has only added to the risks facing business. Many business leaders were concerned about disruptions to a smooth transition of power if Mr. Trump lost, while others expressed dismay at Mr. Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacy and his suggestion that the Proud Boys, a far-right group, should be prepared to “stand back and stand by.”

“People just want stability, some degree of normalcy,” said Aaron Levie, chief executive of the tech company Box. “We want to understand what the geopolitical landscape looks like, what trade looks like, what immigration looks like. There’s not a clear underlying philosophy that drives this administration, other than nationalism. You just can’t predict the next move.”

Mr. Levie said he was concerned that another term for Mr. Trump would lead to fewer foreign nationals coming to the United States to pursue education and professional opportunities, noting that many of the country’s most successful companies have been started by immigrants.

“We just don’t

The Wednesday Market Minute

  • Global stocks slide following a chaotic Presidential debate during which President Donald Trump once again refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power.
  • President Trump, and former Vice President Joe Biden traded insults and interruptions in an unedifying 90 minute spectacle that likely changed the minds of very few voters.
  • Germany is using targeted restrictions to tame a resurgent coronavirus, and hopes to avoid a nation-wide lockdown, as the pandemic continues to spread across Europe.
  • Oil prices drift lower as the dollar rallies in safe-haven trading ahead of EIA data on domestic inventory at 10:30 am Eastern time.
  • U.S. equity futures suggest a modestly firmer open on Wall Street, but still the first monthly loss since March, after ADP jobs data  and a final Q2 GDP reading.

U.S. equity futures turned higher Wednesday, while the dollar pushed higher and safe-haven assets rallied, as markets reacted to a bitter and chaotic Presidential debate that once again raised the prospect of a contested election in November.

Payroll processing firm ADP’s September report said private sector employers added nearly three quarters of a million new jobs in September, setting up a stronger-than-expected reading of non-farm payrolls later this week.

Markets also bounced higher following reports of leaked data showing the September Chicago PMI reading pegged at 62.4, more than 10 points ahead of the Street consensus forecast.

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden traded insults, jabs, interruptions and exasperation in an unedifying televised clash that is unlikely to change the minds of the few voters that managed to sit through the 90 minute spectacle.

While neither candidate was able to land more than a glancing blow on his opponent, and few if any policy ambitions were revealed, President Trump did once again raise the prospect

He repeated one of his most common refrains, for example, that before the pandemic struck, his administration built “the greatest economy in history.”

Coming into the year, the Trump team aimed to make that argument the spine of its reelection pitch to voters. And it’s true, as Reuters’s Howard Schneider writes, that before the coronavirus forced an economic shutdown, “record-low unemployment and rising wages were helping the less well-off, while a record stock market buoyed richer Americans.”

In the first half of his term, Trump’s signature tax cuts and a major spending package gave the economic expansion he inherited a turbo-boost of fiscal stimulus. But as they faded, and Trump launched a multi-front trade war that weighed on investment and spending by businesses, growth slowed from 2.9 percent in 2018 to 2.3 percent last year, well short of the 3 percent pace he promised to lock in, at a minimum.

And even if Trump had lived up to his pledge to maintain a 3 percent pace, it would have fallen short of the roughly 4 percent growth in the second half of the 1990s — as well as a mid-1980s boom.

Judged on a more recent timeline, from the beginning of the Obama administration, pre-pandemic growth under Trump has merely followed the trend — contrary to Trump’s claim in the debate that after his 2017 tax cuts, the economy “boomed like its never boomed before”:

Similarly, job growth during Trump’s first term mostly continued apace from the Obama years until the pandemic hit.

Skipping over the worst of the damage from this year’s recession, Trump i pointed to “10.4 million in a four-month period that we’ve put back into the workforce.” But as the chart suggests, Trump is on track to finish his term with fewer jobs than when he

President Trump and 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden sniped and snarled repeatedly during their first debate, a meeting that was supposed to offer voters a clear contrast in policy and temperament but more often provided a stage for the two candidates to vent personal grievances.

Joe Biden, Donald Trump are posing for a picture

© Provided by Washington Examiner

The 90-minute, commercial-free debate, moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, was supposed to be organized around six central topics: the candidates’ records, the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, race and civil unrest, and election integrity. But that neat, tidy structure was tested as the opponents niggled one another and leveled personal attacks, including Trump targeting Biden’s family and Biden going after the president’s finances.

A sober discussion of serious public policy topics was largely derailed by snide remarks and retorts between the two White House rivals.

“Will you shut up, man?” Biden asked Trump at one point during crosstalk. “That was really a productive segment, wasn’t it?”

At another moment, Trump mocked the two-term vice president’s intelligence.

“Last in your class, not first in your class,” Trump said of Biden’s academic credentials.

Biden, who originally promised to fact-check Trump and was warned by staff to keep his “Irish” in check, appeared visibly rankled in spots and bemused at others.

“I’m not here to call out his lies. Everybody knows he’s a liar,” Biden said.

But about midway through the debate Biden added, exasperated, “You’re the worst president we’ve ever had.”

A key point came when Trump broached Hunter Biden’s appointment to Ukrainian gas company Burisma, and his business dealings in China and Russia, transactions pivotal to the president’s impeachment.

“My son did nothing wrong,” Biden said.

The first question focused on the forthcoming Supreme Court fight, and the pending case questioning the constitutionality of Obamacare. Trump claimed the