Stocks dropped sharply Monday as COVID-19 cases surged in the U.S. and Europe, adding to worries about the economic outlook after Congress and the White House failed to agree on a much-anticipated stimulus deal. Major indexes opened lower, and the declines accelerated into the afternoon.
The Dow industrials fell 650 points, or 2.3%, the worst day for the blue chips since Sept. 3. The S&P 500 dropped 1.86%, and the Nasdaq Composite fell 1.64%. U.S. crude oil futures also fell 3.2% to $38.58 a barrel.
In Asia, most major equity benchmarks closed lower. China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.8%. Markets in Hong Kong were closed for a public holiday.
The decline came as data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showed that daily COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have risen by an average of 68,767 over the week. On Sunday, more than 60,000 cases were reported, while the country saw more than 83,000 new infections on both Friday and Saturday, surpassing a previous record of roughly 77,300 cases set in July.
Coronavirus cases are accelerating in Europe. France reported more than 52,000 new infections Sunday, a daily high. Italy is trying to rein in the spread with new rules, such as the mandatory closure of restaurants and bars at 6 p.m. Spain declared a state of emergency, as it did in March.
Optimism also dimmed over the White House and Republicans striking a stimulus deal with Democrats before the election.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued that she was expecting more answers regarding an aid package on Monday and that an agreement could be reached this week among lawmakers. But Democrats and White House officials are blaming each other for the lack of progress after the two sides went into the weekend without a deal, dimming hopes for an agreement before Nov. 3.
Over the weekend, Pelosi indicated that the White House needed to reach a deal by Tuesday night to produce relief legislation that could pass before the election.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on Monday blasted Congress for failing to reach another coronavirus stimulus package to help Americans deal with the fallout from the pandemic.
“Fire them all. I really mean that sincerely,” Sununu said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “No one in the Senate or Congress can say that they’ve shown leadership on the COVID crisis. What have they done since March? Like literally nothing.”
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