US stocks close mixed as stimulus optimism clashes with new virus strain

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
  • US stocks closed mixed on Tuesday after Congress passed a multitrillion-dollar spending bill that includes $US900 billion in new stimulus.
  • The package, which also funds the government through September 30, includes $US600 direct payments, $US300 in additional federal unemployment benefits, and aid for small businesses.
  • The fresh fiscal support locked horns with concerns around a new strain of COVID-19 in the UK. The variant’s emergence prompted several European nations to enact travel restrictions on UK visitors.
  • Oil futures fell as investors viewed the new virus strain as a risk to near-term energy demand. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 2.4%, to $US46.60 per barrel.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US equities closed mixed on Tuesday as investors weighed Monday’s stimulus vote against the emergence of a new coronavirus strain in the UK.

Congress approved the measure Monday night after months of negotiations over additional fiscal support. The bill, which includes $US900 billion in new stimulus, funds the government through September 30. The package also includes $US600 direct payments, $US300 in additional federal unemployment benefits, and funds for the Paycheck Protection Program.

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


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The White House has indicated President Donald Trump will sign the bill. Economists have largely backed additional fiscal support, though the slowed pace of economic recovery and rising COVID-19 cases still present sizeable risks.

“The $US900 billion fiscal aid package is months late and will likely fall short of what is needed to prevent a rough winter, but it’s better than nothing,” Gregory Daco, chief US economist at Oxford Economics, said, adding the measure will “partially buffer the current economic slowdown” while vaccines are distributed.

Enthusiasm toward the new fiscal support was somewhat offset by reports of a new COVID-19 variant in the UK. Several European countries implemented travel restrictions on UK visitors to slow its spread.

Fears were somewhat allayed later in the day after public health experts said Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines are likely effective against the new strain. Still, the new restrictions and virus fears threaten to tamper down on already weakened economic activity.


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Economic indicators also flashed some warning signs. US consumer confidence unexpectedly fell to a four-month low this month as surging COVID-19 cases and stricter lockdown measures offset a slight improvement in Americans’ long-term outlooks, Conference Board said Tuesday. The organisation’s sentiment gauge fell to 88.6 from 92.9, while economists expected a jump to 97.

The tech and real estate sectors outperformed, while communications-service and energy stocks lagged.

The Nasdaq composite index was lifted by Apple, which extended a late Monday climb following a Reuters report that the iPhone maker aims to produce electric cars by 2024. The news also boosted lidar-sensor producers, as Apple reportedly plans to partner with such firms for its vehicle systems.

Peloton soared after the company inked a deal to buy exercise-equipment company Precor for $US420 million. Peloton plans to use Precor’s facilities to boost its manufacturing capacity and cut down on its order backlog.


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Bitcoin rose back above $US23,000 after plunging the most in nearly a month on Monday. The cryptocurrency faced pressure after the US Treasury proposed rules that would require exchanges to collect information from users who transfer more than $US10,000 to a crypto wallet.

Spot gold erased early gains and fell as much as 1%, to $US1,858.97 per ounce, at intraday lows. The US dollar strengthened against all of its Group-of-10 peers and Treasury yields dipped.

Oil prices fell amid fears that the new COVID-19 strain will further cut into demand. West Texas Intermediate crude dropped as much as 2.4%, to $US46.60 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, declined 2.7%, to $US49.56 per barrel, at intraday lows.


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