By Medha Singh and Shivani Kumaresan
(Reuters) – Wall Street was set to fall on Wednesday as coronavirus cases rose at an alarming rate in the United States and Europe, quelling hopes of a quick recovery in the global economy.
Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:) and United Airlines Holdings (NASDAQ:), companies sensitive to coronavirus-led restrictions, dropped 2% and 3%, respectively, in premarket trading. Energy companies took a hit from a slump in oil prices, with Occidental Petroleum Corp (NYSE:) falling about 4%. [O/R]
New cases and hospitalizations set records in the U.S. Midwest, while concerns over a national lockdown in France and tighter restrictions in Germany sapped investor appetite for risk. [MKTS/GLOB]
“Whether you call it a continuation of the pandemic or a third wave of new case discovery – it is the largest concern,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.
“Unless and until we get through this pandemic, it is hard for investors to imagine a better economic time.”
A spiraling pandemic and an impasse in Washington over fresh fiscal stimulus sent the S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq to their lowest close in three weeks on Tuesday.
Wall Street’s fear gauge spiked to its highest level in nearly two months on concerns over a delay in counting the huge volume of mail-in ballots, meaning a winner might not be declared the night of Nov. 3, when polls close.
Democratic challenger Biden leads President Donald Trump nationally by 10 percentage points, according to the Reuters/Ipsos poll, but the competition is tighter in swing states, which will decide the victor.
“The uncertainty of not knowing the direction we are heading is making investors step on the sidelines and wait for the election results,” Hogan said.
At 08:27 a.m. EDT, Dow E-minis were down 1.81% at 26,872 points and S&P 500 E-minis fell 1.51% to 3,332 points. E-minis dropped 1.3% to 11436 points.
Of the 170 S&P 500 companies that have reported third-quarter results so far, about 84% have topped expectations for earnings, according to Refinitiv data. Profit on average is expected to fall 16.4% from a year earlier.
Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:)’s quarterly results surpassed analysts targets, benefiting from a pandemic-driven shift to working from home and online learning. Its shares, however, fell 2.4% after rising 35% so far this year.
The other Big Tech companies – Apple (NASDAQ:), Alphabet (NASDAQ:), Amazon (NASDAQ:) and Facebook (NASDAQ:) – which are due to report results on Thursday, fell between 0.9% and 1.9%.
General Electric (NYSE:) Co jumped 7% after the company unexpectedly reported a quarterly profit and a positive cash flow on the back of cost cuts and improvements in its power and renewable energy businesses.
Boeing (NYSE:) slipped 0.2% as it reported its fourth straight quarterly loss, while reaffirming its expectation that U.S. deliveries of the 737 MAX aircraft would resume before year-end.