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Wall St slips on rising coronavirus cases, Tesla drags Nasdaq lower

  • Tesla Inc slipped 1.9pc and was one of the top drags on the tech-skewed Nasdaq after the electric-car maker unveiled a $5 billion capital raise, its second such move in three months.
08 Dec 2020

The S&P 500 and the Dow fell on Tuesday as surging COVID-19 cases and strict restrictions in California threatened to further weigh on an already stalling economic recovery, while losses in Tesla pulled the Nasdaq off its record high.

Seven of the 11 major S&P sub-indexes were lower, with the utilities sector leading declines. Energy shares recovered slightly from the previous session's steep losses, even as crude prices remained under pressure.

Most residents in California, the nation's most populous state, faced new restrictions on Monday after record coronavirus case numbers and hospitalizations, while officials in New York warned similar restrictions could come into effect soon.

Nationwide, COVID-19 infections are at their peak, with an average of 193,863 new cases reported each day over the past week, according to a Reuters tally of official data, and health officials warned that the worst is yet to come.

"People are coming to the realization that we are still in a tough place with the virus and the economy isn't as strong as it was in the early part of the summer, while we are still waiting on stimulus," said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth in New York.

Tesla Inc slipped 1.9pc and was one of the top drags on the tech-skewed Nasdaq after the electric-car maker unveiled a $5 billion capital raise, its second such move in three months.

Losses on the index were limited by Apple Inc, its largest constituent, after the company unveiled its new AirPods Max, a set of wireless over-ear headphones, in a measure likely to boost sales over the December holiday period.

Investors are closely watching whether policymakers will be able to clinch an agreement on a long-awaited coronavirus relief bill and a $1.4 trillion spending bill, with Friday eyed as a deadline to avoid a government shutdown.

The U.S. Congress will vote this week on a one-week stopgap funding bill to provide more time for lawmakers to reach a deal on both spending and pandemic relief.

"It also appears that whatever stimulus package gets announced, it is not going to be quite enough, maybe not large enough to satisfy the market," Dakota Wealth's Pavlik added.

At 10:36 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.95 points, or 0.01pc, at 30,068.84, the S&P 500 was down 5.73 points, or 0.16pc, at 3,686.23, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 37.55 points, or 0.30pc, at 12,482.39.

Positive developments related to the COVID-19 vaccine have in the recent weeks helped investors look past the surge in infections and raise bets on a steady economic recovery next year.

Pfizer Inc rose 1.8pc as it cleared the next hurdle in the race to get its COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use, after the U.S. health regulator released documents raising no new safety or efficacy issues.

Johnson & Johnson gained 1.4pc after the company said it could obtain late-stage trial results of a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine it is developing, earlier than expected.

The S&P index recorded 31 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 122 new highs and six new lows.