Wall Street slumps again as coronavirus counts keep climbing

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are falling in morning trading on Wall Street Monday and deepening last week’s losses, as a troubling climb in coronavirus counts threatens the global economy.

The S&P 500 was 1.4% lower, following up on last week’s 0.5% drop, which was its first in four weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 530 points, or 1.9%, at 27,805, as of 10:35 a.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was down 0.8%.

Stocks also weakened across much of Europe and Asia. In another sign of caution, Treasury yields were pulling back after touching their highest level since June last week.

Coronavirus counts are spiking in much of the United States and Europe, raising concerns about more damage to the still-weakened economy. The U.S. came very close to setting back-to-back record daily infection rates on Friday and Saturday. In Europe, Spain’s government declared a national state of emergency on Sunday that includes an overnight curfew, while the continent’s restaurants are already feeling the pain of new virus curfews and restrictions.

Hopes are fading, meanwhile, that Washington will be able to deliver more support for the economy anytime soon. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke several times last week on a potential deal to send cash to most Americans, restart supplemental benefits for laid-off workers and provide aid to schools, among other things.

But deep partisan difference remains on Capitol Hill, and time is running out for anything to happen before Election Day on Nov. 3. Any compromise reached between House Democrats and the White House would also likely face stiff resistance from Republicans in control of the Senate.

“While we are seeing nations attempt to stifle the spread of the virus through more localised and tentative restrictions, it seems highly likely that we will eventually see a swathe of nationwide lockdowns if the trajectory cannot be reversed,” said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG in London.

“Traders remain torn as they weigh up the potential impending benefits of a U.S. stimulus package and potential vaccine,” he added.

The U.S. economy has recovered a bit since the stay-at-home restrictions that swept the country early this year eased, and economists expect a report on Thursday to show it grew at an annual rate of 30.2% during the summer quarter after shrinking 31.4% during the second quarter.

But momentum has slowed recently after a prior round of supplemental unemployment benefits and other stimulus that Congress approved earlier this year expired.

Stocks of companies that need the virus to abate and the economy to return to normal were logging some of the sharpest losses in morning trading.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings fell 8.6%, Marathon Oil dropped 5.6% and United Airlines lost 5.3%.

Energy stocks dropped to the largest loss among the 11 sectors that make up the S&P 500, falling in concert with oil prices. More than 90% of the stocks in the index were lower.

Among the market’s few gainers in early trading were companies that can succeed even in a stay-at-home economy. Zoom Video Communications gained 3.3%.

Amazon rose 1.4% for one of the biggest gains in the S&P 500, and Apple added 0.4%. Expectations are high for them, and analysts say they’ll report strong results for their latest quarter this week. They and other Big Tech stocks have soared through the pandemic on hopes their growth will only continue as work-from-home and other trends that benefit them accelerate.

This upcoming week is the busiest of this quarter’s earnings season, with more than a third of the companies in the S&P 500 index scheduled to report. Besides Amazon and Apple, Ford Motor, General Electric and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, are also on the docket.

Across the S&P 500, profit reports for the summer have been mostly better than Wall Street had feared, though they’re still on pace to be more than 16% lower than year-ago levels. Through Friday, 84% of S&P 500 companies reported better results than analysts had forecast, according to FactSet. If that level holds, it would be the best since at least 2008, when FactSet’s records begin.

In European stock markets, Germany’s DAX lost 2.9%, and France’s CAC 40 fell 1.2%. The FTSE 100 in London slipped 0.4%.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 dipped 0.1%, South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.7% and stocks in Shanghai lost 0.8%.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 0.80% from 0.85% late Friday.