U.S. Stocks May Come Under Pressure Amid Concerns About New Virus Strain

Stocks are likely to come under pressure in early trading on Monday, extending the pullback seen last Friday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a sharply lower open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by 477 points.

Concerns about a new coronavirus strain in the U.K. are likely to weigh on Wall Street, with the variant said to be 70 percent more infectious than the original strain.

The news of the new strain led Canada as well as several European countries, including Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, to order a suspension of flights from Britain.

More than 16 million Britons are now required to stay at home as a full lockdown came into force in London and the southeast of England.

The worries about the new coronavirus strain have offset news that Congressional leaders have reached an agreement on a new $900 billion relief package.

The bill will purportedly provide more federal assistance to small businesses, healthcare providers, and the unemployed and includes direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and child.

“As the American people continue battling the coronavirus this holiday season, they will not be on their own,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., said in a post on Twitter.

He added, “Congress has just reached an agreement. We will pass another rescue package ASAP. More help is on the way.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., expressed support for the bill but said they plan to push for more relief once President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in.

Stocks staged a recovery attempt late in the trading session on Friday but still ended the day lower following the advance seen on Thursday. The major averages finished the day in the red after reaching record intraday highs at the start of trading.

The major averages all closed lower, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq posted only a modest loss, edging down 9.11 points or 0.8 percent to 12,755.64. The Dow slid 124.32 points or 0.4 percent to 30,179.05 and the S&P 500 fell 13.07 points or 0.4 percent to 3,709.41.

Despite the drop on the day, the major averages all moved higher for the week. The Nasdaq soared by 3.1 percent, the S&P 500 jumped by 1.3 percent and the Dow rose by 0.4 percent.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Monday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index edged down by 0.2 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index advanced by 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved sharply lower on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has plunged by 2.6 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are both down by 3 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are tumbling $2.05 to $47.05 a barrel after climbing $0.74 to $49.10 a barrel last Friday. Meanwhile, after slipping $1.50 to $1,888.90 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are sliding $4.20 to $1,884.70 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 103.46 yen versus the 103.30 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Friday. Against the euro, the dollar is trading at $1.2202 compared to last Friday’s $1.2257.

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