US stocks take a breather after hitting records as traders balk at spiking virus cases

Reuters / Andrew Kelly

  • US stocks slipped on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average trading lower after closing at record highs on Monday.
  • Major US indexes were up sharply on Monday after Moderna released encouraging data on its COVID-19 vaccine — but investors took a breather on Tuesday.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US stocks slipped on Tuesday following record closes for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average on Monday.

Despite a steady rise in daily COVID-19 cases, investor optimism remained elevated after Moderna on Monday released encouraging data from trials of its vaccine. It is the second vaccine that is said to have demonstrated an efficacy rate of more than 90%.

Here’s where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. ET open on Tuesday:

  • S&P 500: 3,597.04, down 0.8%
  • Dow Jones industrial average: 29,574.11, down 1.3% (376 points)
  • Nasdaq composite: 11,881.61, down 0.4%

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Technology stocks, which underperformed value stocks on Monday, got a boost in early trades on Tuesday, driven in part by a move higher in shares of Tesla and Amazon.

Tesla jumped on Tuesday after the S&P 500 Index Committee said it would add the electric-car manufacturer to its index. The move is likely to boost demand for shares of Tesla, as trillions of dollars are indexed and benchmarked to the S&P 500.

Amazon climbed after it announced the launch of a digital pharmacy, setting itself up to directly compete with retail pharmacy chains like Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid.

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Merck, Pfizer, and AbbVie got a boost on Tuesday after quarterly filings showed that Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway bought billions of dollars’ worth of shares in the pharmaceutical companies.

Oil prices declined. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 1.9%, to $40.57 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, fell 1.7%, to $43.08 per barrel, at intraday lows.

Gold rose on Wednesday, increasing as much as 0.2%, to $1,893.52 per ounce.

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