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Stocks ease off record highs with virus in focus
EconNov 18. 2020
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Claire Ballentine · BUSINESS
Stocks pulled back from record highs as investor focus turned to the surge in virus cases and new lockdown measures, overshadowing optimism that covid-19 vaccines will eventually end the pandemic.
Pharmacy chains were among the worst performers on the S&P 500 Index after Amazon.com Inc. unveiled a new push into prescription drugs. Tesla Inc. jumped on news the carmaker will join the benchmark U.S. gauge. Treasury yields dipped along with the dollar as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy still has a “long way to go” before it fully recovers from the pandemic.
Investors are taking a pause after sending stocks to all-time highs Monday in the wake of news that Moderna Inc.’s vaccine was shown to be 94.5% effective in a clinical trial. Wide distribution of a shot is still months away, and cases are spreading quickly in the U.S. and Europe. Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the situation in Germany remains “very serious,” while Ohio, Illinois and Pennsylvania announced new restrictions tied to the virus.
“Markets find themselves in a seemingly awkward moment as they attempt to weigh the near-term covid trends and the potential for a very tough few months for the economy against the optimism and progress around vaccine development,” said Yousef Abbasi, global market strategist at StoneX.
Elsewhere, Asian stocks were slightly higher. In Europe, travel and leisure companies led declines as more lockdown rules were announced. The pound rose on signs the U.K. and European Union are nearing a breakthrough on Brexit as early next week.
These are the main moves in markets:
– The S&P 500 Index fell 0.5% as of 4 p.m. EST.
– The Stoxx Europe 600 Index declined 0.2%.
– The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.2%.
– The MSCI Emerging Market Index fell 0.1%.
– The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index decreased 0.2%.
– The euro increased 0.1% to $1.1864.
– The British pound advanced 0.4% to $1.3251.
– The Japanese yen strengthened 0.4% to 104.2 per dollar.
– The yield on 10-year Treasurys sank four basis points to 0.87%.
– Germany’s 10-year yield declined two basis points to -0.56%.
– Britain’s 10-year yield fell two basis points to 0.32%.
– West Texas Intermediate crude rose 0.1% to $41.38 a barrel.
– Gold fell 0.4% to $1,881.34 an ounce.