U.S. stocks swung to losses in a volatile final hour of trading Monday, after investors weighed another surge in coronavirus cases with signs of progress for a vaccine.
Monday’s moves continued an erratic few weeks for markets. Prices have swung, sometimes sharply within a single day.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 0.9% to 3,155.22, after rising more than 1% earlier in the day, which had briefly pushed the broad index into positive territory for the year.
The Dow Jones industrial average was virtually flat, rising 10.5 points to 26,085.80. That marked an about-face after the blue-chip average soared as much as 564 points in afternoon trading.
The Nasdaq Composite retreated from a record high, shedding 2.1% to 10,390.84.
Monday’s brief rally fizzled out after shares of big technology companies erased early gains. Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft and Facebook each fell at least 2.5% apiece. Investors have bought technology and other companies they expect to emerge stronger from the global downturn.
The S&P 500 index is still close to its highest level since the market began selling off in late February due to virus worries. Recent improvements in the labor market have helped validate investors’ optimism that the economy can recover as anti-virus controls are relaxed. That helped the S&P 500 rebound to within 7% of its record, after being down nearly 34% in late March.
But optimism dimmed Monday after the pandemic reached new highs in Florida. The state reported more than 12,000 new cases, one day after its 15,000 new cases smashed the daily record for any state since the pandemic began. Florida’s infection total now stands at 282,435.
The U.S. has surpassed 3.3 million cases with over 135,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been 12.9 million cases and over 569,000 deaths.
Such concerns about new outbreaks have helped the price of gold recently vault to its highest level since September 2011. Gold added $12.20 to settle at $1,814.10 per ounce Monday.
Investors are turning their attention to earnings season, which kicks off in full swing Tuesday when banking giants JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo report their latest quarterly results.
Earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to drop a staggering 44.6% in the second quarter from a year ago, according to FactSet. That would mark the biggest decline since the fourth quarter of 2008 during the height of the financial crisis.
“Make no mistake, this earnings season has for the most part been written off, since earnings will have been conditioned by the lockdown period of the economy,” Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities, said in a note. “However, corporate guidance, if and where given, may be the catalyst for a pullback.”
Shares of PepsiCo ticked up 0.3% after the beverage maker posted stronger-than-expected results in the latest quarter.
Investors were also awaiting the release of China’s economic growth data for April-June later this week, a key indicator for trade, manufacturing and investments with implications for the entire region.
Investors are hoping for an improved outlook thanks to the reopening of China’s economy following its own early outbreaks, share prices are much higher than justified by the numbers, analysts said.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury held steady at 0.63%. It tends to move with investors’ expectations for the economy and inflation.
Benchmark U.S. crude fell 1.1% to settle at $40.10 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 1.2% to $42.72 per barrel.
In Europe, France’s CAC 40 rose 1.7% and Germany’s DAX added 1.3%. Britain’s FTSE 100 climbed 1.3%.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 climbed 2.2%. South Korea’s Kospi gained 1.7%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added nearly 1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.2%, while the Shanghai Composite was up 1.8%.
Contributing: The Associated Press