The Dow Jones industrial average fell 250 points at the opening bell Monday but recovered some losses throughout the day. By close, the blue-chip index had cut its losses to 89.28 points, or 0.3 percent, to settle at 31,008.69. The S&P 500 edged down 25.07 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,799.61, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 165.55, or 1.3 percent, to settle at 13,036.43.
Investor moods also soured overseas as Europe continued to grapple with a coronavirus resurgence. Britain’s FTSE 100 declined 1.1 percent, and Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 fell 0.8 percent. The benchmark Stoxx 600 index shed nearly 0.7 percent.
“After the euphoria of last week’s market movements, investors are now facing the realization that covid cases in the U.K. remain at elevated levels, while cases are also rising in places like Germany and China,” Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said Monday. “The pace of the vaccine rollout remains closely watched, and any positive news on this front could put a spark back into equity markets.”
Tech stocks were hit hard Monday as investors anticipated intense backlash from the White House following Twitter’s decision to ban Trump’s Twitter account after he incited the mob that overran the Capitol. Twitter’s shares plummeted 6.4 percent. Facebook, which suspended Trump indefinitely, traded more than 4 percent lower.
“Social media platforms have taken some strong positions following the Capitol riots, and that is raising expectations that when the dust settles, congressional efforts to regulate Big Tech will become high on the agenda,” Ed Moya, senior economic analyst with Oanda, said Monday.
Stocks have been on a record-shattering tear after a devastating drop-off during the pandemic’s first wave, even as the coronavirus continues to cause mass deaths, halt travel, decimate businesses and push millions into poverty. On Friday, the Labor Department reported that December marked the end of eight months of jobs growth, with the economy shedding 140,000 positions amid a nationwide coronavirus surge. Nearly half a million jobs were lost in leisure and hospitality, the majority in restaurants as soaring cases prompted renewed business restrictions.
“The economic reality stands in stark contrast to the markets’ view of the world,” Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for the Independent Advisor Alliance, said Friday. “We are all living in the present, with a badly damaged economy, while the market is living in the future, expecting a post-covid or at least post-vaccine world.”
Investors have been looking down the line toward the likely priorities of the Biden administration. Many investors worry that the Senate’s Democratic majority — secured last week by the party’s wins in two Georgia runoff elections — might ease the path for tax increases and regulatory changes. But flipping the chamber also increases the odds of more fiscal stimulus, boosting companies that have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and the economic downturn.
The United States has recorded more than 22 million coronavirus cases and more than 374,000 fatalities tied to the virus since February, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. Last week, the nation surpassed 4,000 daily deaths for the first time.
“It has never been more true that the path of the economy depends on the course of the virus,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank. “And right now, new covid outbreaks across the nation are threatening to bring the economy down with it.”