Stock futures fell sharply Monday morning, tracking declines in European and Asian equities as concerns mounted over a new infectious strain of the coronavirus identified in the UK.
Contracts on the Dow sank more than 400 points, or 1.4%, while those on the S&P 500 dropped more than 1.6%. Nasdaq futures dipped 1%. Stocks poised to benefit from an economic reopening – including airlines, cruise lines and lodging firms – fell Monday morning, unwinding some of the gains made over the past month amid rising vaccine optimism.
Populous parts of the UK including London went back into a more draconian state of lockdown over the weekend, after the discovery of a new variant of COVID-19 said by experts to be 70% more transmittable than the earlier version of the virus in the country. The UK’s FTSE 100 index (^FTSE) sank more than 2%, and the pound fell 1.9% again the dollar (GBPUSD=X) Monday morning in New York.
More than two dozen countries have imposed travel bans on the UK over the past couple days, with the duration of the restrictions spanning from days to months. Some key countries, including France, banned both travel and freight to and from the country, leading to possible food shortages in Britain ahead of the Christmas holiday.
The new developments around COVID-19 at least temporarily outweighed more upbeat news on the political front in the U.S. on Sunday, as lawmakers reached a deal for a $900 billion virus-relief package and government spending package for the fiscal year. This ended a months-long stalemate over more relief among congressional lawmakers and White House officials, with discussions over the package accelerating this month as a year-end expiration of key unemployment programs drew near.
The stimulus package will include another round of direct checks to Americans of $600, enhanced federal unemployment benefits of $300 per week, and funds for small businesses and vaccine distribution. Some of the more contentious points of earlier stimulus negotiations – including state and local government aid and liability protections for businesses – were omitted from this deal.
The House of Representatives is poised to vote on the virus-relief package Monday before sending it to the Senate.
7:13 a.m. ET Monday: Stock futures point sharply lower on new virus jitters
Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:13 a.m. ET Monday:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,645.5, down 60.75 points or 1.64%
Dow futures (YM=F): 29,673.00, down 440 points or 1.46%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,578.25, down 134.25 points or 1.06%
Crude (CL=F): -$1.87 (-3.81%) to $47.23 a barrel
Gold (GC=F): -$3.60 (-0.19%) to $1,885.30 per ounce
10-year Treasury (^TNX): -4.5 bps to yield 0.903%
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