Pandemic- related worries spur selling, erasing recent gains
Stocks closed broadly lower on Wall Street on Friday after another choppy day of trading as worries about the worsening pandemic undercut growing optimism about a coming coronavirus vaccine.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 0.7%, erasing its gains from a day earlier. The benchmark index, which climbed to an all- time high on Monday, posted its f irst weekly decline after two weeks of gains. The index is still up 8.8% so far this month.
Technology, f inancial and industrial companies drove much of the selling, which turned volatile in the final hour of regular trading. Treasury yields were mostly lower, a sign of caution in the market. Stock indexes around the world made modest moves.
Traders are balancing cautious optimism that a working coronavirus vaccine will be widely distributed next year against jitters over surging virus cases and the economic impact of new restrictions across the U. S.
The S& P 500 fell 24.33 points to 3,557.54. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 219.75 points, or 0.7%, to 29,263.48. The Nasdaq composite gave up an early gain and dropped 49.74 points, or 0.4%, to 11,854.97.
Small- company stocks held up better than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 small- cap index rose 1.21 points, or 0.1%, to 1,785.34.
Wall Street suddenly began to teeter- totter this week after a big November rally swept both the S& P 500 and Dow to record highs. Evidence is piling up both for hope about the economy’s prospects next year and for fear about the damage accruing in the shorter term.
Adding to the optimistic side of the ledger Friday was Pfizer and BioNTech saying they’ll submit an application with U. S. regulators for emergency use of their vaccine candidate. Data suggest it may be 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID- 19 disease.
If approved, a limited number of doses could begin being administered as early as next month, though widescale vaccinations probably wouldn’t happen until after a potentially brutal winter.
Other vaccines are under development, and the hope is that one or more could get the economy running closer to normal next year.
On the pessimistic side, more governments around the world are bringing back restrictions on daily life to slow the spread of the virus. Surging coronavirus counts and hospitalizations also threaten to frighten consumers enough to keep them hunkered at home and drag on the economy.
California’s governor announced late Thursday an overnight curfew on most residents, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving.
The U. S. Treasury Department also said late Thursday that it will not extend several emergency loan programs set up with the Federal Reserve to help markets and the economy.
The announcement got some immediate pushback from the Fed, which has been keeping the accelerator f loored on its support for the economy while asking politicians in the White House and Congress to do the same. The central bank said it “would prefer that the full suite of emergency facilities” created during the pandemic remain.
But Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said closing the emergency loan programs could allow Congress to re- appropriate $ 455 billion to other relief programs.
Democrats and Republicans in Washington have been deadlocked in efforts to deliver another round of f inancial support.
The majority of stocks in the S& P 500 fell, with technology companies taking the heaviest losses. Apple dropped 1.1%, while Intuit . dropped 3.8%.
Travel- related stocks also fell. Norwegian Cruise Line slid 4.9%, and Carnival fell 4.5%.
Williams- Sonoma rose 6.6% after reporting stronger profit and revenue for the latest quarter than analysts expected.
The yield on the 10- year Treasury slipped to 0.83% from 0.84% late Thursday.
European markets closed moderately higher, and Asian markets ended mixed.