Concern over Virus Cases, Fed Funding, Hold Stocks Down by Noon

Stocks fell on Friday as rising new coronavirus cases, coupled with questions around central-bank funding for a key emergency programs, cast doubt on a swift economic recovery.

The Dow Jones Industrials slumped 138.9 points to reach noon at 29,344.33.

The S&P 500 dumped 10.63 points to 3,571.24.

The NASDAQ inched up 2.48 points to 11,907.19.

Walgreens fell 1.7%, and Boeing ditched 1.8%, and were the worst-performing stocks in the Dow. Financials fell 0.9% to lead the S&P 500 lower along with energy.

The U.S. seven-day average of daily new Covid-19 infections now stands at 165,029, according to an analysis of John Hopkins data, 24% higher than a week ago. On Thursday alone, a record 187,833 cases were reported. Many states have rolled back reopening plans and implemented fresh restrictions to curb the spread.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday issued a “Limited Stay at Home Order” on a majority of the state’s residents, requiring nonessential work and gatherings to cease between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Americans against traveling for Thanksgiving.

Also weighing on sentiment Friday was a disagreement between the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve over the continuation of funding for some of the emergency programs implemented during the recession.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is seeking to end a handful of the Fed facilities that bought corporate bonds as well as the Main Street Lending Program targeted towards small- and medium-sized businesses. The move has drawn pushback from the central bank, which said the programs continue to serve an important role to support the vulnerable economy.

On the bullish side, markets got more good news on the vaccine front with Pfizer and BioNTech saying they will apply for an emergency use authorization for their vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration on Friday. The companies said they can be ready to ship the vaccine within hours after FDA approves the authorization.

Prices for the 10-Year Treasury were higher, weighing yields to 0.84% from at Thursday’s 0.85%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices inched downward nine cents to $41.65 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices held onto gains of $8.70 to $1,870.20 U.S.