By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A gauge of global stocks edged lower from a record on Tuesday, as rising coronavirus cases raised concerns about fresh lockdown measures and tamped down recent optimism over promising vaccine trial results.
U.S. stocks moved off their worst levels of the day but the Dow and S&P 500 remained in the red as several states imposed new restrictions on gatherings amid climbing COVID-19 cases and the onset of colder weather.
Losses on the Nasdaq were blunted, however, in part due to a 8.21% jump in Tesla on news the electric car maker will be added to the S&P 500 in December.
Investors cheered positive vaccine trial results from Moderna on Monday, the second upbeat report on a coronavirus trial in a week.
“We have a lot of risk in the next few months but the market as whole disagrees,” said Mike Zigmont, head of research and trading at Harvest Volatility Management in New York.
“So maybe the market is in for a rude surprise.”
Still, analysts have warned that absent a new fiscal stimulus package, the economy is likely to falter until a vaccine is available for distribution. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he is open to a $500 billion package, but noted he has not had any private discussions with Democrats who control the House of Representatives or President-elect Joe Biden.
Data on Tuesday showed retail sales increased less than forecast in October, with the potential for even further slowing. Factory production accelerated but remained well below levels prior to the pandemic.
Federal reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Tuesday the current surge in coronavirus cases is a big concern, and the economy will continue to need both fiscal and monetary policy support.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 166.49 points, or 0.56%, to 29,783.95, the S&P 500 lost 17.31 points, or 0.48%, to 3,609.6 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 24.79 points, or 0.21%, to 11,899.34.
European shares closed lower and the STOXX 600 dipped from an eight-month high, as Sweden moved to restrict the size of public gatherings and a British medical adviser suggested strengthening the three-tier system of restrictions when the full lockdown in England ends.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.24% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.12% after closing at a record 613.61 in the prior session.
U.S. Treasury yields fell in the wake of the retail sales report as it underscored the possibility of a slowdown in the fourth quarter.
Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 11/32 in price to yield 0.8701%, from 0.906% late on Monday.
The U.S. dollar remained soft, touching its lowest level in a week, with expectations for continued weakness on expectations for more fiscal and monetary stimulus as well as optimism over a potential vaccine.
The dollar index fell 0.082%, with the euro up 0.08% to $1.1862.
The offshore Chinese yuan rose to its highest since June 2018 against the dollar, as positive economic data in the world’s second largest economy buoys the currency.
(GRAPHIC: China’s Yuan is surging – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/xegpbqjmlvq/Pasted%20image%201605617145961.png)
Crude prices were little changed, as short-term demand concerns overshadowed vaccine hopes and the possibility of tighter supply policy from OPEC+ in 2021.
U.S. crude settled up 0.22% at $41.43 per barrel and Brent was $43.75, down 0.16% on the day.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; additional reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Tom Brown)