S&P 500, Dow sink to September lows on spiraling pandemic, election worry

Andrew Cummings
October 29, 2020

GE was the biggest percentage gainer on theS&P 500.

New cases and hospitalizations set records in the U.S. Midwest, while concerns rose over a national lockdown in France and tighter restrictions in Germany.

"Obviously the virus is out of control".

"The concept that.it's going to disappear is just a faulty assumption".

Shares of hotels, airlines and other companies sensitive to COVID-19-related curbs fell with Wynn Resorts down 3.6% and the S&P 1500 airlines index declining 3.4%. The energy index slid 4.2 percent as oil prices tumbled on fears of a deeper drop in fuel demand. "I did not expect this level of volatility or this degree of a sell-off."Uncertainty about the upcoming presidential election has also been pushing markets around.The S&P 500 lost 119.65 points to 3,271.03".

Polls showing a tightening of the race in Florida and some other swing states have increased concerns about a potentially contested outcome, even as Joe Biden's lead over President Donald Trump has widened in some key states.

Investors are anxious about various potential outcomes: that the election may be contested; a "blue wave" gives Biden a victory and his Democrats control of Congress; or that Trump gets re-elected, said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"As people run through the likely scenarios of what could happen with the election, there's no short-term good answer", he said.

Losses were broad-based with technology stocks, down 4.33%, weighing the most. Apple Inc, Amazon.com, Google-parent Alphabet and Facebook Inc, which together account for about a fifth of the S&P 500's total value, also report results this week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped over 800 points, or almost three percent at the opening on Wall Street.

U.S. -listed Chinese companies traded lower, with all of the top 10 stocks by weight in the S&P U.S. Listed China 50 index ending the day on a downbeat note.

"Uncertainty about COVID-19-related mobility restrictions and USA politics mean we should expect volatility to remain elevated for the balance of the year", chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management Mark Haefele said in a note.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 14-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 6.28-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 11 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 23 new highs and 48 new lows.

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