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S&P 500, Dow Dives On Concerns Over Rising COVID-19 Infections

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(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Dow slipped on Friday with a spike in coronavirus cases threatening to derail a fragile economic recovery, even as plans were announced to end several Federal Reserve economic support programs .

FILE PHOTO: The New York Stock Exchange is pictured in the Manhattan neighborhood of New York, New York, United States, November 10, 2020. REUTERS / Carlo Allegri

The Nasdaq rose 0.2%, boosted by a rise in shares of darlings at home Zoom Video Communications Inc FROM MO and Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday defended his decision to end several of the federal government’s pandemic loan programs on Dec. 31, saying Congress should use the money to help small U.S. businesses with home grants. square.

The decision to end the programs, deemed essential by the central bank, comes as data shows an increase in jobless claims last week, as new restrictions to control the spiral of COVID-19 infections have likely led to a new wave of layoffs.

From a psychological standpoint, this (the expiration of some Fed loan programs) might make people a little nervous, said Mike Zigmont, head of trading and research at Harvest Volatility Management.

But the facility that is being terminated has not been used, so the fact that it disappears in December will have no direct impact on anything.

Meanwhile, California and Ohio imposed nighttime curfews on Thursday, with new hospitalizations jumping nearly 50% in the past two weeks in the United States.

The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones were poised for their first weekly losses in three weeks, as investors juggled growing optimism about an effective coronavirus vaccine and the short-term economic damage caused by the spike in infections.

Hopes for a fiscal stimulus package were rekindled after U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to resume relief talks on Thursday.

There is a very dangerous race going on as to how quickly can vaccinations start versus how quickly infections are spreading across the country, said Mike Zigmont, head of commerce and research at Harvest Volatility Management.

Big banks have improved their stock market forecasts for 2021 following promising recent data from COVID-19 vaccine trials.

At 11:34 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 85.64 points, or 0.29%, to 29,397.59, the S&P 500 .SPX down 4.74 points, or 0.13%, to 3,577.13 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC gained 17.92 points, or 0.15%, to 11,922.64.

All major S&P sectors slipped except utilities .SPLRCU and health .SPXHC.

Microchip Technology Inc MCHP.O jumped 5% after the chipmaker’s quarterly profit and revenue beat estimates. The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor Index .SOX gained 0.7%.

Pfizer Inc PFE.N rose 1.2% as the company said it had asked US health regulators for an emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine.

Home clothing and fashion retailer Ross Stores Inc ROST.O gained 1% after its quarterly sales beat expectations.

Falling issues matched those advancing on the NYSE, and on the Nasdaq, a 0.7 to 1 ratio favored declines.

The S&P 500 recorded 14 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq Composite recorded 132 new highs and eight new lows.

Report by Shivani Kumaresan and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Edited by Shounak Dasgupta

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