NEW YORK, Nov 20 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Dow edged lower on Friday as investors headed into the weekend grappling with disappointing fiscal stimulus news and uncertain efforts to combat a spiraling COVID-19 pandemic with vaccines.
In point of fact, it had been a slandering spike in pandemic cases across the United States which acted as a major market mover on Friday's market, while a number of tech stocks which had been benefitting from the pandemic-led restriction such as Netflix Inc.
Stay-at-home beneficiary Zoom Video Communications Inc was up 6.8%, providing the biggest lift to the Nasdaq, while reopening play Boeing Co was the heaviest drag on the blue-chip Dow.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 219.95 points, or 0.75%, to 29,263.28, the S&P 500 lost 24.22 points, or 0.68%, to 3,557.65 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 49.74 points, or 0.42%, to 11,854.97.
"Markets are still stuck in a push-and-pull between the dramatic rise of new COVID cases versus apparent progress on vaccines", said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in NY. If Pfizer's application is approved by the FDA, the vaccine will likely be limited and rolled out in several phases, with healthcare workers, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions likely to be first in line for vaccinations.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday defended his decision to end several of the Fed's pandemic lending programs on December 31, saying Congress should use the money to help small U.S. companies with grants instead.
"This dust-up between the Fed and Treasury could have serious implications, as markets want to see the two institutions working well together", Carter added.
Record infection numbers in the U.S. have caused COVID-19 hospitalizations to soar 50 percent and have prompted a new round of school and businesses closures, curfews and social distancing restrictions, hobbling economic recovery from the deepest recession since the Great Depression.
In the corporate space, Pfizer and BioNTech will apply for an emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration for their Covid-19 vaccine.
Tesla Inc shares rose for the third straight session to touch a record high, riding the wave of its pending inclusion in the S&P 500, announced on Monday. Technology and industrials suffered the largest percentage losses on the day.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.08-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.06-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted three new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 68 new highs and six new lows.
Volume on US exchanges was 10.69 billion shares, compared with the 10.70 billion average over the last 20 trading days.
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