Dow falls for a second day, drops more than 100 points as average daily virus cases hit new record

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 fell for a second day on Tuesday as the coronavirus continues to batter the U.S.

The 30-stock Dow slid 129 points, or 0.5%. The S&P 500 dipped 0.2%. The Nasdaq Composite traded just 0.2% higher.

A CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University showed daily U.S. coronavirus cases have risen by an average of 69,967 over the past week, a record. The average number of Covid-19 hospitalizations has also risen by at least 5% in 36 states over the past seven days, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

Wall Street was coming off a tough session, with the Dow posting its biggest one-day drop since early September. The decline was sparked in part by the rising number of coronavirus cases and an inability by lawmakers to push forward on new fiscal stimulus.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s spokesperson said on Twitter that the Democratic leader remains “optimistic” about a pre-election deal after Monday’s phone call with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. However, the spokesperson said Democrats are still waiting on the White House to accept its language around Covid-19 testing and that “our progress depends on [Senate Majority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell agreeing to bipartisan, comprehensive legislation.” McConnell adjourned the Senate until Nov. 9, further diminishing the prospects of a deal being reached before the election.

Investors are also bracing for a potentially contested election result, which could lead to volatile trading in the markets.

“The biggest risk appears to be the threat of a contested election and the country not knowing the winner of the Presidential election next Tuesday night,” Brian Price, Head of Investment Management for Commonwealth Financial Network, told CNBC.” I think that investors are taking some chips off the table or increasing their hedging positions in advance of what could be a tenuous period for risk assets.”

Earnings season continues

A slew of large-cap companies reported quarterly earnings on Tuesday, including manufacturing giants 3M and Caterpillar. Caterpillar reported a steep drop in year-over-year earnings, sending the stock down more than 3%. 3M, meanwhile, slid 1.3% even after posting stronger-than-expected earnings and revenue.

Wall Street is also gearing up for Microsoft earnings after the bell on Tuesday. The technology giant saw revenue grow 13% last quarter despite the pandemic. Advanced Micro Devices and Chubb also report following the close on Tuesday.

Stocks plunged on Monday, with the Dow logging its biggest one-day drop since early September. Fueling the weakness in the markets was a surge in Covid-19 cases in the U.S., compounded by diminishing hope of a stimulus package from Washington before the election, which is just one week away.

AMD said it was buying rival Xilinx in a $35 billion all-stock deal in a push for the data center market. Xilinx gained 8.8% on the news. AMD shares dipped 4.1%.

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