Dow drops 200 points to start the week as coronavirus cases rise, stimulus talks in focus

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U.S. stocks slipped on Monday as investors turned to Washington for clues over a new coronavirus stimulus deal while a rising number of Covid-19 cases dampened sentiment.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 216 points lower, or 0.8%. Earlier in the day, the 30-stock average was up more than 100 points. The S&P 500 dipped 0.9% and the Nasdaq Composite pulled back 0.8%.

Amazon, Alphabet and Microsoft were all down at least 1% to lead the decline along with Facebook and Apple. All 11 S&P 500 sectors fell on the day, with health care and communication services as the worst performers.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said over the weekend that she is giving the Trump administration 48 hours to reach an aid deal before the Nov. 3 election. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continued their discussions on Saturday. They agreed to speak again on Monday.

“The 48 only relates to if we want to get it done before the election, which we do,” Pelosi told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “We’re saying to them, we have to freeze the design on some of these things — are we going with it or not and what is the language? I’m optimistic, because again we’ve been back and forth on all this.”

Democrats and Republicans have tried for weeks to move forward on a new aid package. However, differences over the how much stimulus is needed and how broad the bill should be have complicated the negotiations.

Tom Block, Washington policy strategist at Fundstrat Global Advisors, thinks it is possible that a deal between the Trump administration and Pelosi can be reached.

“Both sides seem to have an incentive to get a deal done,” Block said in a note to clients. He also added that “the dynamics of the lame duck could be poisonous if Trump loses, or Republicans lose control of the Senate. The safer course of action seems to be to pass a bill now, and if there is a blue wave more stimulus early in 2021.”

Meanwhile, global coronavirus cases hit 40 million on Monday, which put a damper on bullish sentiment.

A CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data showed Covid-19 cases were growing by 5% or more in 38 states as of Friday. Nationwide, the daily case average has risen by more than 16% on a week-over-week basis to nearly 55,000. New coronavirus infections in Europe are rising by about 97,000 per day, up 44% from the prior week.

The major averages were slightly higher earlier in the day as strong economic data out of China lifted market sentiment. The world’s second largest economy reported third-quarter GDP growth of 4.9%, which was on the low end of expectations, but indicates an improving outlook.

Stocks were coming off a week of choppy trading action.

The S&P 500 and the Dow fell for three straight days last week before closing slightly higher on Friday. The Nasdaq Composite posted its first four-day losing streak since September.

“A lot is very likely to happen over the next several weeks, and the broader macro picture could thus change pretty massively depending on developments along all of those fronts,” Hamid added.

— CNBC’s Yun Li and Pippa Stevens contributed reporting.

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