Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Stocks open lower on Wall Street as virus infections spread

by Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are opening lower on Wall Street as mounting coronavirus infections and evidence of the damage being cause to people’s livelihoods rolls in. The S&P 500 gave up 0.4% early Thursday. The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose last week for the first time in five weeks, the latest sign that a resurgence in virus infections is leading employers to cut jobs. The modest recovery in the U.S. economy is increasingly at risk. New confirmed daily infections in the country have jumped 80% over the past two weeks, leading to greater restrictions on businesses, social gatherings and kids going to school.

Global stocks mostly fell Thursday amid anxiety over the economic fallout from rising coronavirus infections in the United States and Europe.

Markets in London, Tokyo, Frankfurt and Hong Kong declined, while Shanghai advanced. Futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index were down 0.1% and those for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were 0.2% lower.

Markets edged back from record highs in recent days as investors became more cautious about the business impact of a continued rise in infections. Losses mounted after New York City said it would close its public schools to in-person learning.

“Concerns over the near-term impact of the recent spike in cases overshadowed additional positive developments on the vaccine front,” Prakash Sakpal and Nicholas Mapa of ING said in a report.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 in London lost 0.7% to 6,338 while the DAX in Frankfurt shed 0.9% to 13,087. The CAC 40 in Paris fell 0.7% to 5,472.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo fell 0.4% to 25,634.34 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.7% to 26,356.97.

The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.5% to 3,363.09 and the Kospi in Seoul added less than 0.1% to 2,547.42.

The S&P-ASX 200 in Sydney added 0.2% to 6,547.20 after the government reported an increase of 178,800 jobs in October, well above forecasts of fewer than 30,000. India’s Sensex lost 0.5% to 43,949.20.

Investor optimism about vaccine development has been tempered by rising case numbers in the United States and other countries. American state governors and mayors are grudgingly issuing mask mandates, limiting the size of gatherings, banning indoor restaurant dining, closing gyms and restricting the hours and capacity of other businesses.

Newly confirmed U.S. virus cases are running close to 160,000 per day. Deaths are averaging more than 1,155 per day, the highest in months.

On Wednesday, Pfizer and BioNTech reported data suggesting their potential COVID-19 vaccine may be 95% effective. The companies said they plan to ask U.S. regulators within days to allow emergency use of the vaccine.

Even with those encouraging figures, there is no guarantee a vaccine will be approved or, if it is, how long it will take to be widely distributed.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude fell 32 cents to $41.50 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 15 cents to $44.19 per barrel in London.

The dollar strengthened to 103.98 yen from Wednesday’s 103.84 yen. The euro retreated to $1.1834 from $1.1865.

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