US Stocks Slip on Wall Street; S&P 500 Backs Off Record

US Stocks Slip on Wall Street; S&P 500 Backs Off Record
In this Nov. 23, 2020 file photo, a street sign is displayed at the New York Stock Exchange in New York. (Seth Wenig/ AP Photo, File)
The Associated Press

U.S. stocks are slipping Wednesday and pulling back from their recent record highs as virus cases surge and coronavirus vaccines move closer to distribution.

A vaccine from Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, which is already in use in the UK, is on track for a positive review and potential approval in the United States within the next week. The Food and Drug Administration will also consider a vaccine developed by Moderna later this month. The prospect for a vaccine is giving Wall Street hope that the economy is nearing a more direct path to a full recovery.

But there could be more economic damage in store over the next few months and investors are still closely watching Washington for any developments on another shot of stimulus for people, businesses, and state governments. Congress is still divided over the size and scope of any new package and the Trump administration has added to the potential plans with a new $916 billion proposal.

The S&P 500 was down 0.9 percent in afternoon trading, putting it below its record of 3,702.25 set on Tuesday. The index is already up 1.3 percent this month following one of its best months in years during November.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 150 points, or 0.5 percent, at 30,023, as of 2:42 p.m. Eastern time, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite was 2 percent lower.

Technology stocks fell and dragged much of the market with them. Health care and communications stocks also slipped. Microsoft shed 1.7 percent while Pfizer fell 1.8 percent.

About 63 percent of the companies in the S&P 500 fell, led by Qorvo, which declined 5.2 percent.

Treasury yields gained ground in a sign of optimism for the economy. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.93 percent from 0.90 percent late Tuesday.

Investors still have an appetite for IPO's as meal delivery service DoorDash soared 78 percent in its market debut. The company has been one of the beneficiaries of the stay-at-home economy as more people shop and order food from their homes.

The market has generally been making gains as investors weigh the continued economic damage being inflicted by the virus against anticipation for a return to normalcy as vaccines start to move closer to approval and wider distribution. The recent surge in coronavirus cases and tighter restrictions on businesses over the last few weeks has again raised the importance of a vaccine for beaten down businesses.

Looking ahead, the economy will likely still have a long way to recovery in 2021, said Barry Bannister, head of institutional equity strategy at Stifel.

“What we’ve said is the sky is not falling, but there are some dark clouds and indexes are showing signs of fatigue,” he said.

European markets were mixed. France’s CAC 40 was down 0.3 percent, Germany’s DAX rose 0.5 percent and the FTSE 100 in London rose 0.1 percent. Asian markets mostly rose.

By Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga