Following the advance seen late in the previous session, stocks have moved back to the downside in morning trading on Friday. Selling pressure has remained relatively subdued, limiting the scope of the declines by the major averages.
In recent trading, the tech-heavy Nasdaq has been bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line and is currently down 1.65 points or less than 0.1 percent at 11,903.07. The Dow is down 158.78 points or 0.5 percent at 29,324.45 and the S&P 500 is down 13.61 points or 0.4 percent at 3,568.26.
The moderate weakness on Wall Street partly reflects concerns about the near-term economic outlook amid a continued spike in new coronavirus cases in the U.S.
The latest data from John Hopkins University showed nearly 188,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, while the daily death toll topped 2,000 for the first time.
The continued surge in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. has raised concerns new restrictions and lockdowns will dampen the economy recovery.
While there continues to be upbeat news on the vaccine front, traders seem worried about an economic downturn the months leading up to the widespread distribution of a vaccine.
Adding to the economic uncertainty, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced a decision to allow five of the Federal Reserve’s nine emergency lending programs to expire at year end.
The Fed responded to the decision in a rare public statement, saying it would prefer that the full suite of emergency facilities established during the coronavirus pandemic continue to serve their important role as a backstop for the still-strained and vulnerable economy.
While Mnuchin has argued he is following the intent of Congress, Gregory Daco, Chief U.S. Economist at Capital Economics, suggested the Treasury Secretary is hoping lawmakers will consider reallocating the unused funds for new stimulus measures.
“However, with partisanship in Congress preventing the delivery of urgently needed fiscal aid, and low rates negating any imminent debt servicing concern, Mnuchin’s justification appears poorly grounded,” Daco said.
He added, “And, it may backfire by leaving the Fed as the only adult in the room to address a concerning economic situation in the final stages of 2020.”
Airline stocks are giving back ground after moving sharply higher in the previous session, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index falling by 1.4 percent. The index ended Thursday’s trading at its best closing level in well over eight months.
Considerable weakness has also emerged among tobacco stocks, as reflected by the 1.4 percent slump by the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index. With the drop, the index continues to give back ground after reaching a nearly ten-month intraday high on Wednesday.
Financial and housing stocks are also seeing some weakness in morning trading, while gold stocks have shown a strong move to the upside along with the price of the precious metal.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific once again turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.4 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose by 0.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are seeing modest strength on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is just above the unchanged line, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index are both up by 0.2 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries have given back ground after an initial advance but remain slightly higher. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1 basis point at 0.844 percent.
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