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Stock Rally Loses Steam in Volatile Session

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07/13/2020 | 04:21pm EDT

By Anna Isaac and Alexander Osipovich

A rally in U.S. stocks fizzled Monday after California rolled back its reopening plans, spurring worries about another coronavirus lockdown.

Major stocks had been sharply higher earlier in the session, with Dow Jones Industrial Average rising more than 500 points. But sentiment shifted after California moved to close all indoor dining, bars and other businesses. The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second largest, said it would start the school year online.

The Dow edged up 10 points, or less than 0.1%, following two consecutive weeks of gains.

The S&P 500 fell 0.9%. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite, which has been at record highs in recent days, dropped 2.1%.

Markets have remained resilient in recent weeks despite rising coronavirus infections in many U.S. states. The Dow and S&P 500 have surged more than 40% since late March, though they remain down around 10% and 5% from their February records, respectively.

"The markets are looking out six months from now, and saying that things will be a whole lot better by then," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. He cautioned that uncertainty about the pandemic or the upcoming U.S. election could still sour the market's rally in the coming months.

Pfizer shares added 4.1% to lead the Dow. The pharmaceuticals giant and German biotech company BioNTech said Monday that they received "fast track" designation from the Food and Drug Administrations for two coronavirus vaccine candidates that they are partnering on, allowing them to speed up testing.

Shares of Goldman Sachs, another Dow member, climbed 1.6% ahead of its earnings release planned for later this week.

Investors were looking ahead to second-quarter earnings season for any signals about the shape and pace of economic recovery following the disruption caused by the pandemic.

Economists generally agree that the quarter ended in June was likely the worst of the downturn, but the extent of the damage is still unclear. The rise in U.S. coronavirus cases has prompted renewed restrictions on business and social gatherings in some areas and threatens to slow down the economy's revival.

"There's some optimism about the tone of the upcoming earnings," said Jane Foley, senior foreign exchange strategist at Rabobank. "People have written off the second quarter, but they have high expectations for the third quarter."

Earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to decline nearly 45% compared with the second quarter of 2019, which would mark the steepest year-over-year drop since 2008, according to FactSet.

Shares of PepsiCo rose 0.3% as the food and beverage giant posted better-than-expected revenue for the latest quarter. The company said snacks sales rose as Covid-19 shelter-in-place measures and closures eased during the period.

"The environment has remained volatile and much uncertainty remains about the duration and long-term implications of the pandemic," Pepsi Chief Executive Ramon Laguarta said.

Earnings from big banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, and Netflix are on tap for later in the week.

Total U.S. coronavirus cases topped 3.3 million on Monday and the nation's death toll exceeded 135,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Thirty-two states had increases of at least 10% in cases over the past week, prompting public-health experts to warn it may become difficult to halt the spread.

"The rising numbers of cases in the U.S. are just not generating as much fear as they had before," said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors. "The death rates aren't rising as quickly as infection rates. It suggests that the virus is being managed better than before or it's more focused on the younger generation, suggesting a less severe economic reaction."

Seven of the S&P 500's 11 sectors were in negative territory on Monday, with consumer-discretionary, communications, real-estate and technology stocks among the worst performers.

Shares of Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants, which has been hurt this year by coronavirus-related cafe closures, gained 1.2% after it was upgraded by analysts at JPMorgan.

Shares of chip maker Maxim Integrated jumped 8.6% after Analog Devices said it would buy its rival in an all-stock transaction. The deal values the combined companies at more than $68 billion, according to their own valuations. Analog shares were down 5.6%.

Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 rose 1%. Most major Asian markets ended the day sharply higher, with the Shanghai Composite Index rising 1.8%.

The Shanghai index has climbed nearly 13% this year, making it one of the world's best-performing major indexes. Growing conviction that China's economy is recovering from the coronavirus has encouraged investment in Chinese stocks from foreign institutions and the millions of individual investors who dominate trading in China.

Vincent Wen, an investment manager at KCG Securities Asia, said the recent Chinese rally has been too fast, driven by official messages and the prospect of easy monetary policy.

"Fundamentally speaking, the real economy remains weak and the path to recovery will be bumpy," Mr. Wen said.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury ticked up to 0.643%, from 0.633% on Friday, as investors sold government bonds. Yields move in the opposite direction from prices.

Joanne Chiu contributed to this article.

Write to Anna Isaac at anna.isaac@wsj.com and Alexander Osipovich at alexander.osipovich@dowjones.com

 

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
ANALOG DEVICES -0.99% 118.1 Delayed Quote.-1.92%
BIONTECH SE 3.49% 71.4 Delayed Quote.103.98%
DARDEN RESTAURANTS, INC. -0.41% 84.305 Delayed Quote.-22.39%
DJ INDUSTRIAL -0.30% 27897.77 Delayed Quote.-1.97%
JPMORGAN CHASE & CO. -0.66% 102.295 Delayed Quote.-26.15%
MAXIM INTEGRATED PRODUCTS, INC. -1.01% 69.41 Delayed Quote.13.97%
NASDAQ 100 0.19% 11179.776829 Delayed Quote.27.76%
NASDAQ COMP. 0.27% 11043.233426 Delayed Quote.22.73%
NETFLIX, INC. 1.15% 481.04 Delayed Quote.46.95%
PEPSICO, INC. 0.17% 138.06 Delayed Quote.0.83%
PFIZER LIMITED -0.28% 4534.3 End-of-day quote.7.34%
PFIZER, INC. -0.48% 38.155 Delayed Quote.-2.17%
S&P 500 -0.21% 3373.52 Delayed Quote.3.19%
S&P/CITIC 300 INDEX -0.01% 4029.52 Delayed Quote.13.72%
S&P/CITIC 50 INDEX -0.02% 3912.74 Delayed Quote.5.08%
SHANGHAI A INDEX 0.04% 3480.7022 Real-time Quote.8.86%
STOXX EUROPE 600 -0.63% 372.53 Delayed Quote.-9.85%
STOXX EUROPE 600 NR -0.55% 817.78 Delayed Quote.-8.37%
THE CHARLES SCHWAB CORPORATION -0.63% 34.6 Delayed Quote.-26.75%
THE GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP, INC. -1.71% 208.45 Delayed Quote.-8.21%
WELLS FARGO & COMPANY -0.85% 24.975 Delayed Quote.-53.18%
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