US STOCKS-Wall Street closes lower as surging COVID-19 cases offset vaccine hopes
(For a Reuters live blog about the US, UK and Europe stock markets, click LIVE / in a news window or type LIVE /.)
* Pfizer asks FDA for emergency green light
* Chip makers outperforming stocks that stay at home
* Mnuchin will expire Fed loan programs on December 31st
* Dow down 0.75%, S&P down 0.68%, Nasdaq up 0.42% (updates with closing prices)
By Stephen Culp
NEW YORK, Feb. 6 / PRNewswire / - U.S. stocks closed lower Friday as investors grappled with fiscal developments, concerns over lengthy vaccine rollouts, and a growing number of government shutdowns to tackle the deepening COVID-19 pandemic.
Stay-at-home games like Zoom Video Communications Inc and Netflix Inc, which outperformed during the health crisis, helped contain the Nasdaq's loss.
During the week, on the ups and downs of the vaccine news and rising infections, investors moved between economically sensitive cyclical stocks and pandemic-resistant market leaders.
The S&P 500 and Dow both posted marginal losses this week, while the technology-laden Nasdaq leveled off a little higher from last Friday's close.
"Markets are still torn between the dramatic increase in new COVID cases and the obvious advances in vaccines," said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York. "This will likely continue until we have an approved and distributed vaccine."
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced late Thursday that he would allow key pandemic relief programs at the Federal Reserve to expire at the end of the year. The $ 455 billion allocation under the CARES Act last spring was due to be returned to Congress for reallocation as a small business grant.
The decision to end lending programs deemed essential by the Federal Reserve comes at a time when new coronavirus infections and a new wave of layoffs are mounting, and has been "disappointing" by Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans " designated.
"This cloud of dust between the Fed and the Treasury Department could have serious consequences as markets want the two institutions to work together well," added Carter. "The timing of this cloud of dust is unfortunate because the risk of COVID is still very high in our country."
Record infection numbers have caused COVID hospital stays to rise by 50% and sparked a new round of school and business closures, curfews and social distancing restrictions that hampered economic recovery from the deepest recession since the Great Depression.
In the latest advancement in the vaccine race, Pfizer Inc has filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval to use its COVID-19 vaccine, the first of its kind in the fight against the disease. The drugmaker's shares rose 1.4%, giving the S&P 500 the biggest boost.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 219.75 points, or 0.75%, to 29,263.48, the S&P 500 lost 24.33 points, or 0.68%, to 3,557.54, and the Nasdaq Composite fell 49.74 points or 0.42% to 11,854.97.
Of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, only utilities made a profit by closing the bell. Tech and industry suffered the largest percentage losses that day.
The at-home beneficiary Zoom provided the Nasdaq with the largest elevator.
Gilead Sciences Inc shed 0.9% after a World Health Organization panel advised against using the COVID-19 remdesivir to treat the company.
Declining issues outperformed advancing issues on the NYSE by a ratio of 1.06 to 1; On Nasdaq, a ratio of 1.12 to 1 favored the advanced.
The S&P 500 posted 17 new 52-week highs and no new lows. The Nasdaq Composite made 122 new highs and 10 new lows.
The volume on the US stock exchanges was 10.69 billion shares, compared with the average of 10.70 billion in the last 20 trading days. (Reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by Tom Brown)
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