Stock market news live updates: Stocks mixed with rising COVID-19 cases, stimulus in focus

Stocks turned positive Tuesday, shaking off earlier losses as investors weighed rising coronavirus cases in the U.S. against optimism over a stronger recovery in 2021.

The Dow and S&P 500 each turned positive mid-morning Tuesday to reverse some of Monday’s modest losses. The Nasdaq joined the other two indices in positive territory just before noon, and then rose to a record intraday high.

Investors this week have been closely monitoring developments out of Washington, with lawmakers still working to agree on measures to fund the government and provide another virus relief package. Lawmakers are poised to vote Wednesday on a continuing resolution to push back a deadline to fund the government from Friday to next week in order to avoid a government shutdown, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a tweet.

A package to provide hundreds of billions of dollars more in virus relief aid was also expected to be included in the government spending bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have backed the $908 billion coronavirus stimulus proposal a bipartisan group of lawmakers released last week, though whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will support the near-$1 trillion plan and the billions it will allocate to state and local governments remains unclear.

Meanwhile, still-rising coronavirus case counts have also raised the specter of further lockdowns in the country, increasing the urgency for lawmakers to provide support to Americans while they await a vaccine. Coronavirus cases have averaged nearly 200,000 per day in the U.S. over the past week, and the average of number of deaths reported each day increased to more than 2,000 per day over the same period, nearing levels from April.

“We haven’t seen the extent of spread that’s going to happen after the Thanksgiving holidays, and we’re already hearing about many health systems that are reaching capacity in terms of ICU beds in particular,” Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Dr. Brian Garibaldi told Yahoo Finance on Monday. “Things are going to get worse before they get better.”

Even given the still-dire virus situation, traders have largely kept piling into stocks over the past few weeks. Prospects for widespread vaccine distribution next year and the possibility of stimulus in the meantime have, to an extent, kept traders looking beyond some near-term risks. This UK on Tuesday became the first Western country to begin vaccinations of a rigorously tested COVID-19 vaccine, using the Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX) inoculation. A review of the same vaccine is taking place in the U.S., and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will convene Thursday and then decide whether to recommend it be granted emergency use authorization.

“This is of course the second if not the third wave in many parts of the world. I think the market has seen this movie before, and indeed the market is looking through,” Anik Sen, PineBridge Investments global head of equities, told Yahoo Finance. “Short-term, of course, there are some uncertainties in terms of the trajectory of the pandemic and short-term uncertainties in terms of the policy response. But I think the market is getting more comfortable that we should see a stimulus bill in the next few days or before the year-end … There is plenty of market opportunity left.”

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11:42 a.m. ET: Stocks turn mixed as S&P 500, Dow rise

The three major indices were mixed heading into the afternoon session on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 and Dow turning slightly positive. The Dow added fewer than 100 points, or 0.3%, while the S&P 500 gained less than one-tenth of a percentage point. The Nasdaq ticked slightly lower.

Johnson & Johnson and Chevron led gains in the Dow. In the S&P 500, energy stocks recovered further and led the broader market’s slight advance, and the consumer staples and materials sectors also outperformed.

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9:38 a.m. ET: Small business owners are ‘still facing major uncertainties,’ and optimism declined in November as COVID-19 cases hit records

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Optimism index dipped in November as concerns over the near-term trajectory of the COVID-19 crisis continued to weigh on business owners.

The index fell 2.6 points from October to 101.4, but still held above the 47-year average of 98, according to the NFIB. However, an index tracking uncertainty among business owners rose to a historically high reading of 90, and owners anticipating better business conditions over the coming 6 months fell 8%.

“Small business owners are still facing major uncertainties, including the COVID-19 crisis and the upcoming Georgia runoff election, which is shaping how they’re viewing future business conditions,” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said in a statement. “The recovery will remain uneven as long as we see state and local mandates that target business conditions and disproportionately affect small businesses.”

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9:31 a.m. ET: Stocks open lower

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 9:31 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -8.38 points (-0.23%) to 3,683.58

  • Dow (^DJI): -72.46 points (-0.24%) to 29,997.33

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -13.43 points (-0.11%) to 12,500.70

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.42 (-0.92%) to $45.34 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$7.90 (+0.42%) to $1,873.90 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -2.5 bps to yield 0.903%

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7:26 a.m. ET: Tesla shares drop in early trading after announcing a $5 billion stock sale

Shares of Tesla (TSLA) declined 1.5% in early trading Tuesday morning after the electric-car maker said in a filing it was looking to raise up to $5 billion in a share offering.

This marked the second time the company pursued a multi-billion-dollar capital raise in three months, as the company capitalizes on high interest in the stock. Shares have risen more than 660% for the year-to-date through Monday’s close. Tesla also sold $5 billion in stock in early September this year.

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7:19 a.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures head toward a lower open

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:19 a.m. ET on Tuesday:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,668.75, down 22 points or 0.6%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 29,899.00, down 158 points or 0.53%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,541.5, down 54.5 points or 0.43%

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.24 (-0.52%) to $45.52 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$1.10 (+0.06%) to $1,867.10 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +0.3 bps to yield 0.931%

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6:07 p.m. ET Monday: Stock futures point lower

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:07 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,683.25, down 7.5 points or 0.2%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 29,993.00, down 64 points or 0.21%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,580.5, down 15.5 points or 0.12%

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 02: A stock broker walks past a Christmas Tree displayed in front of the New York Stock Exchange on December 02, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

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