Dow drops 308 points as rising COVID-19 cases cloud economic-recovery optimism

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on November 20, 2019 in New York City
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

  • The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average mark their third declines in four sessions.
  • European COVID-19 cases are rising and spurring more lockdowns in the region.
  • US economic recovery continues but is ‘far from complete,’ says Fed Chairman Powell.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

US stocks dropped Tuesday as a rise in COVID-19 cases in Europe stoked concerns about the path for recovery in the global economy from the pandemic.

All three of Wall Street’s major indexes fell, with losses picking up pace in afternoon dealings. The S&P 500 and the Dow industrials declined for the third time in four sessions. Tech stocks as tracked on the Nasdaq Composite lost grip of earlier gains.

Stocks struggled in the face of rising coronavirus cases in Europe. The higher case counts have prompted Germany, Europe’s largest economy, to order lockdown measures over Easter and France has enacted more restrictions in the country.

Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET close on Tuesday:

Meanwhile, Italy has issued new lockdowns. In the UK, the government in an effort to control cases is seeking to impose a £5,000 fine ($7,000) on people traveling outside of England without a valid reason. The worsening conditions in Europe pressured the demand outlook for oil, sending Brent oil prices sharply lower.

The US economy is seeing a lower amount of COVID-19 cases compared with Europe, alongside encouraging data and an improved rate of vaccinations, said Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Tuesday.

“But the recovery is far from complete,” he cautioned in remarks prepared for testimony to the House Financial Services Committee. The Fed “will continue to provide the economy the support that it needs for as long as it takes.”

AstraZeneca shares fell after US health officials raised questions about the drugmaker’s COVID-19 vaccine, saying the company could have used some outdated trial data in its update about the formula.

GameStop fell before the video game retailer late Tuesday releases its first quarterly financial report since its Reddit-fueled rally in January. Meanwhile, Melvin Capital, the hedge fund at the heart of the GameStop frenzy, is facing nine lawsuits from retail investors who alleged a conspiracy to limit trading caused them to lose money.

While stocks have pulled back in recent session, the market’s fear gauge, the Cboe VIX Volatility Index, is back at pre-pandemic lows, and it’s signaling big upside ahead, says Fundstrat’s Tom Lee.

Anthony Scaramucci’s SkyBridge Capital and investment firm First Trust Advisors have applied for regulatory approval for a bitcoin exchange-traded fund.

Oil prices tumbled, with West Texas Intermediate crude down 6% to $57.60 per barrel. Brent, oil’s international benchmark, was down 6.5% to $60.47.

Gold fell 0.6% to $1,727 per ounce as US treasury yields eased.

Bitcoin lost 2.5%, to trade at $55,328.

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Tech stocks slide as Senate’s stimulus approval boosts Treasury yields

stock trader worried
  • US equities fluctuated on Monday as the Senate’s approval of a $1.9 trillion stimulus package revived the value rotation.
  • Investors ditched tech stocks and Treasurys for value names and cyclicals in hopes for a swift economic rebound.
  • Oil erased early gains and slid after a Saudi Arabian crude terminal was attacked in a Sunday drone strike.
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US stocks wavered on Monday as the Senate’s approval of a massive new relief package revived the value rotation.

Senators voted along party lines on Saturday to push a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan closer to President Joe Biden’s desk. The package is expected to receive a final House vote on Tuesday, giving Democrats time to enact a supplement to federal unemployment benefits before the current boost expires on March 14. The package also includes $1,400 direct payments, aid for state and local governments, and funding for vaccine distribution.

The package is widely expected to accelerate economic growth and lift inflation. The bill’s Senate vote renewed investors’ moves out of growth stocks and Treasurys and into riskier sectors more likely to benefit from broad reopening. Rising yields cut into tech stocks’ appeal on Monday and cyclical stocks gained.

Here’s where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. ET market open on Monday:

The choppy session followed a broad market upswing to close out last week. Stocks rose on Friday as stronger-than-expected February payroll additions led investors to buy the dip in tech stocks. Government data also showed the unemployment rate falling to 6.2%, though other gauges of labor-market health remain at worrying highs.

Tesla tumbled for a fifth straight session as valuation concerns placed new pressure on pricey stocks. Index giants Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet also declined.

General Electric gained after The Wall Street Journal reported the company is nearing a deal to merge its jet-leasing arm with AerCap Holdings. The agreement, should it go through, would combine the world’s two largest aircraft financiers.

Bitcoin traded just below $51,000, hovering in an increasingly narrow trading range as investors look for the next driver to boost cryptocurrencies. The token has failed to hold the $52,000 support level since falling from record highs in late February.

Treasurys broadly tumbled, bringing the 10-year yield to an intraday high of 1.613%. The US dollar strengthened against a basket of Group-of-20 currencies.

Spot gold fell as much as 0.93%, to $1,684.72 per ounce, at intraday lows. The precious metal hadn’t traded below the $1,700 support level since June.

Oil prices erased early gains and dipped after a Saudi Arabian crude terminal was attacked by a drone on Sunday. West Texas Intermediate crude sank as much as 1%, to $65.43 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, fell 0.97%, to $68.69 per barrel, at intraday lows.

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US stocks dip as rising Treasury yields take steam out of market rally

Trader NYSE green
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., March 17, 2020.

  • US stocks fluctuated on Wednesday after disappointing labor-market data drove Treasury yields higher and sparked valuation concerns.
  • The US added 117,000 private payrolls in February, ADP said. That came in well below the 200,000 increase expected.
  • The report and sudden jump in yields offset optimism around the US having COVID-19 vaccines for all Americans by May.
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US equities traded mixed on Wednesday as stimulus optimism was offset by rising Treasury yields.

Early strength across stock sectors faded after ADP’s monthly employment report showed February job growth handily missing expectations. The US added 117,000 private payrolls last month, according to the report. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg anticipated a 200,000-payroll gain.

The reading signals the labor market is returning to growth after a nearly stagnant winter, but the weaker-than-expected data highlights just how difficult it will be for the economy to recoup millions of lost jobs.

Treasury yields swung higher soon after the report’s release. The move revived concerns of overstretched stock valuations and saw the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite underperform peers.

Here’s where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. ET open on Wednesday:

The modest decline follows similar weakness in Tuesday’s session. Valuation concerns led tech stocks to weigh on major indices. The Nasdaq composite sank the most, tumbling 1.7% into the close.

ADP’s labor-market data overshadowed new optimism around the nation’s fight against the coronavirus. President Joe Biden announced Tuesday afternoon that the US will have enough vaccine doses for every American by the end of May, pulling forward the key forecast by two months.

The news comes as the rate of vaccination nears 2 million doses per day on average, well above the 1.3 million pace seen in the final week of February, according to Bloomberg data.

Democrats, meanwhile, continue to push the president’s $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal to a Senate vote. The House passed the measure on Saturday, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he aims to bring the bill to the Senate floor by mid-week. Biden ultimately aims to sign the package into law before expanded unemployment benefits lapse in mid-March.

The package is far from a done deal. Democrats are still haggling over some elements of the bill, including the size of a new supplement to unemployment insurance. The party needs all 50 votes to pass the bill through budget reconciliation, making any last-minute changes risky to the vote’s success.

Lyft rose after the company announced it enjoyed the best week for ridership since the start of the pandemic. Wedbush analysts on Tuesday named Lyft and Uber as top recovery plays, since reopening is expected to revive ride activity.

Bitcoin soared above $51,000 after trading as low as $47,118 on Tuesday. The run-up places the popular cryptocurrency at its highest levels since late February, when it tumbled from record highs.

Spot gold sank 1.7%, to $1,708.43, at intraday lows. The US dollar strengthened against Group-of-20 currencies and Treasury yields rose.

Oil prices shot higher amid the Treasury sell-off. West Texas Intermediate crude gained as much as 2.3%, to $61.10 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, jumped 2.4%, to $64.18 per barrel, at intraday highs.

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Tech stocks pare deep losses but still decline as Fed’s Powell eases concerns over runaway inflation

NYSE Powell Traders
Traders work, as a screen shows Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s news conference after the U.S. Federal Reserve interest rates announcement, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., October 30, 2019.

  • US stocks pared losses but closed lower on Tuesday after Fed chair Jerome Powell staved off fears of rampant inflation.
  • Stimulus and reopening could lift price growth, but the effect will likely be small and temporary, Powell said.
  • Bitcoin tanked below $49,000 after trading as high as $55,053.91 Monday afternoon as investors snapped up crypto profits.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

US equities erased major losses and swung higher on Tuesday after commentary from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell eased concerns of stronger-than-expected inflation.

Growth favorites tumbled immediately after the open as investors bet on Biden-backed stimulus to supercharge the US recovery. The increasing likelihood of a stimulus boost has revived fears of near-term inflation as fiscal support lifts consumer spending. Value stocks and small caps historically outperform momentum names as inflation rises.

The rotation faded through the session as Powell testified to the Senate Banking Committee. New stimulus and economic recovery could lift inflation, but an uptick will likely be small and only temporary, Powell said, adding some reopening-fueled price growth is “a good problem to have.”

Falling COVID-19 case counts and vaccine rollouts “offer hope for a return to more normal conditions later this year,” he added.

Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET close on Tuesday:

Aside from consumer discretionary stocks, every S&P 500 sector rose through the day. Energy and communications stocks rose the most.

The bounce-back marks a sharp reversal from the drop seen one session prior. Stocks closed mixed on Monday as inflation concerns pulled cash out of large-cap names and into reopening bets. The Nasdaq composite ended the session down nearly 2.5%, while the Dow rose slightly. 

Encouraging virus trends have also prompted investors to position for a summer recovery. The US reported 52,530 new cases on Monday, according to The COVID Tracking Project. That’s the lowest daily total since mid-October. And while the pace of vaccinations has moderated slightly from last week, the US is still averaging about 1.4 million doses a day.

Tesla sank for a second straight day, temporarily hitting its lowest level since December before rebounding. Monday’s losses saw more than $64 billion erased from the automaker’s market cap and led CEO Elon Musk to lose his title as the world’s wealthiest person.

AMC extended a two-day rally after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced movie theaters could reopen at 25% capacity in New York City next week.

Bitcoin plummeted as investors took profits from the cryptocurrency’s latest run-up. The token hovered around $47,000 after trading as high as $55,053.91 Monday afternoon. To be sure, prices are still up roughly 55% year-to-date.

Spot gold dipped as much as 0.77%, to $1,795.73 per ounce, at intraday lows before erasing most losses. The US dollar wavered against a basket of Group-of-20 currencies. Treasury yields edged higher as investors dumped the safe havens.

Oil prices erased early losses and rose. West Texas Intermediate crude gained as much as 2.1%, to $63 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, dropped 2.4%, to $66.79 per barrel.

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Tech stocks continue sharp slump as economic-recovery prospects stoke inflation fears

traders new york stock exchange
  • US stocks declined on Tuesday as expectations for rising inflation dragged on tech mega-caps.
  • Investors rotated further to value stocks and small caps from growth names as stimulus optimism fueled bets on economic recovery.
  • Bitcoin tanked below $49,000 after trading as high as $55,053.91 Monday afternoon as investors snapped up crypto profits.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

US equities broadly fell on Tuesday as positioning for strong economic growth and a pickup in inflation weighed on the tech sector.

Growth favorites faced fresh pressure after the open as investors bet on Biden-backed stimulus to supercharge the US recovery. The increasing likelihood of a stimulus boost has revived concerns of near-term inflation as fiscal support lifts consumer spending. Value stocks and small caps historically outperform momentum names as inflation rises.

Tech mega-caps that fueled the market’s first bounce from pandemic lows saw the most intense selling. The Dow Jones industrial average outperformed amid hopes the economic rebound would revive ailing sectors.

Here’s where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. ET open on Tuesday:

The tech-led decline mirrors the drop seen to start the week. Stocks closed mixed on Monday as inflation concerns pulled cash out of large-cap names and into reopening bets. The Nasdaq composite ended the session down nearly 2.5%, while the Dow rose slightly. 

Falling COVID-19 case counts have also prompted investors to position for a summer recovery. The US reported 52,530 new cases on Monday, according to The COVID Tracking Project. That’s the lowest daily total since mid-October. And while the pace of vaccinations has moderated slightly from last week, the US is still averaging about 1.4 million doses a day.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is expected to ease fears of overwhelming inflation when he testifies to the Senate Banking Committee at 10 a.m. ET. Central bank officials have signaled in recent weeks that, though stimulus may lift inflation soon after its passage, the increase will likely be temporary.

Tesla sank for a second straight day to its lowest level since December. Monday’s losses saw more than $64 billion erased from the automaker’s market cap and led CEO Elon Musk to lose his title as the world’s wealthiest person.

Bitcoin plummeted as investors took profits from the cryptocurrency’s latest run-up. The token hovered just below $49,000 after trading as high as $55,053.91 Monday afternoon. To be sure, prices are still up more than 60% year-to-date.

Spot gold dipped as much as 0.3%, to $1,803.73 per ounce, at intraday lows before erasing most losses. The US dollar strengthened slightly against a basket of Group-of-20 currencies. Treasury yields edged higher as investors dumped the safe havens.

Oil prices pared early gains and tumbled. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 0.72%, to $61.25 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, dropped 0.35%, to $65.01 per barrel.

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Tech stocks tumble as investors balk at lofty valuations

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on November 20, 2019 in New York City
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on November 20, 2019 in New York City


US stocks were mixed on Monday with tech stocks pulling back over valuation concerns while investors weighed what rising yields could mean for inflation.

Fundstrat’s Thomas Lee says the case for cyclical stocks within energy, industrials, consumer discretionary, materials, and financials is strengthening as coronavirus cases fall and the US economy begins to re-open.

US lawmakers will debate on President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan act this week. Also, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell will deliver testimony to the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees

Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET close on Monday:

Shares of Churchill Capital IV spiked as much as 19% on Monday after a Bloomberg report said a merger with the electric-vehicle maker Lucid Motors could come as soon as Tuesday. The report follows weeks of rumors that special-purpose acquisition company Churchill would merge with Lucid. 

Famed Reddit trader Keith Gill has increased his stake in GameStop, according to a screenshot he posted to Reddit on Friday. Gill, who goes by Roaring Kitty on YouTube and Twitter and DeepF—ingValue on Reddit, now owns 100,000 shares of the video-game retailer, representing a double of his previous common share stake of 50,000 shares. 

General Electric gained as much as 5.6% on Monday but Goldman Sachs predicts the stock could jump roughly 20% to $15 per share. Analysts from the firm sat down with GE executives on Friday to discuss the company’s operations and financials. The analysts came away “encouraged” by free cash flow and power business momentum at the company.

Bitcoin tumbled as much as 17% on Monday after hitting a record above $58,000 over the weekend, though Bitfinex CTO Paolo Ardoino says daily price movements are “more of a sideshow.”

“Today’s price movement may galvanize bitcoin’s many critics, including those who recently dismissed the leading cryptocurrency as an economic sideshow. Such criticism misses the point and the profound impact it is starting to have. For many of the battle-tested exchanges that have weathered the market fluctuations, volatility isn’t new and is to be expected in such a young market. For many in the industry, development and deployment is priority,” Ardoino said on Monday.

Oil prices spiked. West Texas Intermediate crude rose as much as 4.14%, to $61.69 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, jumped 3.7%, to $65.24 per barrel.

Gold rose 1.75% to $1,808.60 per ounce, at intraday highs.

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US stocks fall as investors mull how stimulus will impact inflation

NYSE Trader Blur
Traders on the floor react before the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange on March 9, 2020 in New York.


US stocks fell Monday morning as investors remained cautious that a large federal stimulus, coupled with surging commodity prices and rising government bond yields could lead to a rise in inflation, just as the world economy is starting to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note is around 1.37%, its highest in a year, having doubled in the space of six months. 

“Near-term Treasury bond prices are likely to remain under pressure as yields rise in anticipation of the economic re-openings that lie ahead. That said, in our experience the bond market has been known to project its expectations for inflation well beyond levels that are justified by the trends in the actual inflation rate,” said John Stoltzfus Oppenheimer Asset Management chief investment strategist. 

US lawmakers will debate on President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan act this week. Also, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell will deliver testimony to the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees. 

Here’s where US indexes stood after the 9:30 a.m. ET open on Monday:

“Big Short” investor Michael Burry warned over the weekend that rampant speculation and widespread betting with borrowed money has driven the stock market to the brink of collapse

“Speculative stock #bubbles ultimately see the gamblers take on too much debt,” the investor tweeted, along with a chart showing the S&P 500 index and levels of margin debt both soaring in recent months. “The market is dancing on a knife’s edge,” Burry said.

Toast Inc, a cloud-based restaurant-software provider, is planning an initial public offering that could value the firm at around $20 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Bitcoin fell 10% to a 24-hour low under $52,000. The drop follows Sunday’s record high of $58,330. 

Oil prices were higher. West Texas Intermediate crude increased 2.3% to $60.60 per barrel.  Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, rose 1.75% to $64.01 per barrel.

Gold gained about 1% to $1,795.80 per ounce. 

 

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US stocks dip as market rally pauses near record highs

NYSE Trader Blur
Traders on the floor react before the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange on March 9, 2020 in New York.

  • US stocks edged lower from all-time highs on Friday as investors mulled how much further the market could climb.
  • Optimism around vaccinations and new stimulus has run up against concerns of unsustainable valuations.
  • Bitcoin traded around $47,500 after notching a record high late Thursday. Adoption from BNY Mellon, Mastercard and Tesla sent prices soaring through the week.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

US equities fell slightly on Friday as bullish investors stopped to take stock of the market’s record-setting rally.

The S&P 500 climbed to an all-time high on Thursday as stimulus hopes and declining jobless claims bolstered bullish sentiments. Momentum has since stalled as investors weigh whether stocks have room to move higher. While Democrats continue to push for a $1.9 trillion relief package, stretched valuations and lasting pain in the labor market stand to curb further gains.

Here’s where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. ET open on Friday:

Read more: A crypto CEO breaks down why Tesla adding bitcoin to its balance sheet will create a ‘domino effect’ that lifts the cryptocurrency to $100,000 by the end of 2021 – and says Dogecoin is destined for a GameStop-style plunge

Separately, the emergence of new COVID-19 strains threatens optimism around an improving pace of vaccination. The US administered 1.62 million doses per day on average last week, bringing the nationwide total to 48 million vaccinations. President Joe Biden announced Thursday the drive will accelerate further still, with the US completing orders for 100 million additional doses from Pfizer and Moderna.

Yet public health experts have warned the shots are less effective against new, rapidly spreading strains of COVID-19. Investors are sure to monitor whether the UK and South African virus variants will cut into efforts to reach herd immunity.

Coronavirus case counts suggest the strains aren’t yet throwing the US into another wave of infections. The country reported 103,024 new cases on Thursday, down significantly from levels seen just one month ago. Hospitalizations declined further to 74,225, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

Earnings season continued. Disney gained after reporting earnings and revenue above Wall Street’s expectations. Subscribers for its Disney Plus streaming service neared 95 million even as a free-trial deal with Verizon customers ended, the company said.

Read more: Wall Street veteran Peter Kraus breaks down why investors should expect about a 10% to 15% market correction ahead – and shares his thoughts on the GameStop drama, SPAC mania, and bitcoin craze.

Bumble gained again after soaring 64% in its Thursday trading debut. The dating app raised $2.2 billion on Wednesday offering 50 million shares for $43 each. The post-IPO pop suggests demand for new offerings will remain strong in 2021.

Bitcoin stabilized around $47,500 after falling from a record-high of 48,925.53 Thursday night. Backing from industry giants including Tesla and BNY Mellon has reinvigorated the cryptocurrency and lifted prices throughout the week.

Spot gold edged as much as 0.81% lower, to $1,810.67 per ounce. The US dollar strengthened against a basket of Group-of-20 currency peers and Treasury yields climbed.

Oil prices fell. West Texas Intermediate crude dropped as much as 1.4%, to $57.41 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, was down 1.3%, to $60.34 per barrel, at intraday lows before paring most losses.

Read more: JP Morgan says 2021 is a ‘stockpickers’ paradise with big money-making opportunities’ – Here’s the firm’s 22 ‘highest conviction’ small-cap investment ideas

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Dow climbs 345 points as concerns of Reddit-fueled volatility cool

Stock Market Traders
  • US stocks rose for the second straight session as day-trader volatility eased from last week’s highs.
  • GameStop, AMC Entertainment, and other Reddit darlings fell as retail investors took profits.
  • Alphabet and Amazon are set to influence Wednesday’s action by reporting earnings after the market close.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

US equities gained for the second straight day as the unwinding of retail-trader volatility aided sentiment.

Stocks recently boosted by an army of casual investors sank as profit-taking finally caught up with their weeks-long rallies. GameStop, AMC, and BlackBerry all traded lower, though not harshly enough to erase their steep rallies. Traders in the Wall Street Bets subreddit urged members to keep holding shares, but brokers’ trading restrictions and concerns about the bubble bursting have driven selling.

Elsewhere, investors cheered President Joe Biden’s push to pass a massive economic stimulus bill. The president met with 10 Senate Republicans on Monday to discuss their much smaller counterproposal. The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said that though the meeting was “productive,” the administration would “not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment.”

Here’s where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. ET open on Tuesday:

Read more: Buy these 26 heavily shorted stocks as retail traders trigger wild rallies in Wall Street’s least liked names, Wells Fargo says

Stocks were also lifted by signs that the worst stage of the coronavirus pandemic is abating. Daily new cases have fallen to their lowest since early November, and hospitalizations have trended lower in recent weeks. Vaccinations have accelerated, suggesting the country could be on its way to a reopening.

Earnings season charges on after the close with Google’s parent, Alphabet, and Amazon set to report quarterly figures. The companies’ large weightings in benchmark indexes mean their reports could drag the broader market lower on Wednesday or extend the week’s rally.

Pfizer, UPS, and Exxon Mobil all climbed after reporting earnings ahead of the market open.

Read more: The investing chief at a $200 million hedge fund that earned 300% on its Bed Bath & Beyond trade breaks down why the GameStop mania is ‘just the beginning’ – and shares another stock he believes will similarly spike

Virgin Galactic leaped for the second consecutive session amid high hopes for a new test flight. The company said on Monday that it would conduct a rocket-powered trial as early as February 13.

Bitcoin neared $35,000 after trading below the $34,000 support level for much of the weekend. The popular cryptocurrency has regained some momentum in recent sessions following its late-January slide below $30,000.

Spot gold slid 1.7%, to $1,829.91 per ounce, at intraday lows. The US dollar weakened slightly against a basket of Group-of-20 currency peers, and Treasury yields rose.

Oil prices climbed. West Texas Intermediate crude jumped as much as 2.7%, to $55.02 per barrel, its highest level in a year. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, gained 3.5%, to $57.84 per barrel, at intraday highs.

Read more: The GameStop mania driven by Reddit traders isn’t simple market trolling. It’s a populist movement threatening to disrupt the financial system to a degree Occupy Wall Street only dreamed of.

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S&P 500 falls for the first time this week as US stocks edge lower

Stock trader
Shares of GameStop have staged a gravity-defying rally in recent weeks.

  • US equities fell on Friday after closing at record highs and the S&P 500 fell for the first time this week.
  • GameStop finished a chaotic week in the market after retail investors thwarted short sellers and volatility prompted a trading halt.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US equities fell on Friday after closing at record highs as investors weighed the outlook for President Joe Biden’s nearly $2 trillion stimulus bill and grew concerned amid reports that the new coronavirus variant may be deadlier. The S&P 500 fell for the first time this week. 

There is some evidence the new variant of the coronavirus first identified in the UK may be up to 30% more deadly than previous variants, the UK government has said.

A key gauge of US business activity swung higher this month as strong demand lifted manufacturers and service businesses alike. IHS Markit’s composite output index climbed to 58 from 55.3 in an early January reading, hitting its highest level in two months.

Credit- and debit-card spending accelerated through the first two weeks of January as stimulus passed by President Donald Trump bolstered households’ balance sheets. Card spending climbed 6% from the year-ago period over the week that ended January 16, Bank of America said in a Thursday note, citing aggregated card data.

Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET close on Friday:

Read more: GOLDMAN SACHS: Buy these 26 renewable-energy stocks best-positioned to benefit from increased spending as governments aim for net-zero emissions

GameStop surged as much as 78% on Friday as investors looking to thwart short sellers piled further into the stock and triggered a trading halt.

Shares of GameStop have staged a gravity-defying rally in recent weeks, with shares up as much as 307% year to date based on Friday’s intraday high.

The short seller Andrew Left of Citron Research tweeted that he was ending his bearish commentary on GameStop after he said an “angry mob” of investors harassed him and his family over the past 48 hours.

Canada’s Horizons ETF Management announced Friday that it filed its final prospectus to launch the Horizons Psychedelic Stock Index ETF (PSYK). It will be the first psychedelics ETF and begins trading on the Canadian NEO exchange on Wednesday.

Bitcoin recovered to $33,817 Friday afternoon after tumbling to about $28,000 in the early-morning hours. Comments from Janet Yellen, Biden’s Treasury secretary nominee, and a report of a “double spend” gave bitcoin investors a tumultuous week

Gold fell 0.61% to $1,854.60 per ounce. The dollar weakened against a basket of Group of 20 currencies, and Treasury yields fell slightly.

Oil prices fell but remained above the $50 support level. West Texas Intermediate crude dropped as much as 1.86% to $52.14 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international standard, declined 1.52% to $55.25 per barrel.

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