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Stocks, bond yields fall as virus gains, Fed aid ebbs

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Rising coronavirus infection rates and dwindling aid for the U.S. economy gave investors pause on Friday, sending stock prices and bond yields lower during U.S. trading.

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen as people walk in silhouette in the financial district of New York, U.S., November 19, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Around 2000 GMT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 150.6 points, or 0.51%, to 29,332.63, the S&P 500 had lost 7.72 points, or 0.22%, to 3,574.15 and the Nasdaq Composite had added 18.22 points, or 0.15%, to 11,922.93.

Treasuries Benchmark 10-year notes was up 9/32 in price to yield 0.8276%, from 0.855% late on Thursday.

The rate had slipped earlier to its lowest level in 10 days at 0.818%, before stabilizing in later trading.

The 30-year bond was up 36/32 in price to yield 1.5318%, down from 1.578%.

The dollar index was up 0.018%, with the euro down 0.14% to $1.1856.

“It’s a relatively muted day except for tech” where options option expirations drove stock volume higher than normal, said Yousef Abbasi, global market strategist at StoneX, a global financial services firm.

Hopes of a stimulus-led recovery faded earlier Friday after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said key COVID-19 pandemic lending programs at the U.S. Federal Reserve to support businesses and local governments would expire by the end of 2020.

Stocks had edged higher in Europe earlier, spurred in part by news on Thursday that U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to resume COVID-19 relief talks.

Fresh flare-ups in coronavirus cases also hurt sentiment, with California announcing new curfews to try to fight surging infections, while Japan faces a third wave of the virus, and parts of Europe are already under recently renewed restrictions.

The World Trade Organization said that while global trade in goods had rebounded in the third quarter from lockdowns, there would be a slowdown at the end of 2020.

In a letter to U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, Mnuchin said $455 billion allocated to Treasury under the CARES Act should be instead available for Congress to reallocate.

Although not used extensively, Fed officials felt the programs reassured financial markets and investors that credit would remain available to help businesses, local agencies and even non-profits through the pandemic.

FACTBOX-This is where the Fed’s emergency facilities stand.

Mnuchin’s decision added to market anxiety about broader economic growth as data shows the early fast recovery from a historic plunge in the U.S. economy is fading, with more than 10 million who had jobs in January still out of work.

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