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Wall Street gains amid economic hopes; tech shares decline

(Reuters) – The Dow and S&P 500 rose on Wednesday, powered by banks stocks, as optimism for an economic recovery as lockdowns continued to ease overshadowed worries of simmering U.S.-China tensions.

Declines in technology shares limited the advance, with the Nasdaq underperforming the other major indexes.

The S&P 500 financial index .SPSY provided the biggest boost to the benchmark index, sending it past the psychologically key 3,000 level in intraday trading for a second day in a row. In contrast, heavyweights Amazon.com (AMZN.O), Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Facebook Inc (FB.O), which have led the recent rally, were down.

“It’s the tech stocks that are probably most sensitive to Chinese growth,” said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute in St. Louis.

“If the market is going to go higher from here, you’re going to have to have broader participation, but you are going to need those large-cap tech companies to be along for the ride, because they make up such a large portion of the benchmark,” Samana said.

The easing of lockdowns, optimism about an eventual COVID-19 vaccine and massive U.S. stimulus have powered the recent stock market rally, with the S&P 500 .SPX on Tuesday ending at its highest level since early March.

Even so, U.S. tensions with China have cast a cloud on markets. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that Washington would announce its response to China’s planned national security legislation on Hong Kong before the end of the week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 317.75 points, or 1.27%, to 25,312.86, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 21.81 points, or 0.73%, to 3,013.58 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 6.73 points, or 0.07%, to 9,346.95.

Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Twitter Inc slipped as Trump threatened to shutter social media companies a day after Twitter attached a warning to some of his tweets, prompting readers to fact-check the president’s tweets.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.70-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.81-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted five new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 35 new highs and eight new lows.

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S&P 500 tops 3,000 pts on hopes of economic recovery, COVID-19 vaccine

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks jumped and the S&P 500 breached 3,000 points on Tuesday as optimism about a potential coronavirus vaccine and a revival in business activity helped investors overlook simmering Sino-U.S. tensions.

The benchmark index traded above the key psychological level and also above its 200-day moving average, a closely watched long-term trend indicator, for the first time since March 5.

All 11 S&P sector indexes gained in early trading, with cyclical financials .SPSY, industrials .SPLRCI and energy .SPNU stocks jumping more than 3%.

The S&P 500 has risen about 37% from its March lows on a raft of central bank and government stimulus, and is now just about 11% below its February record high.

On Monday, California decided to reopen in-store retail businesses and places of worship from one of the most restrictive shutdowns in the United States.

“People have been locked up and when they see sparkles of hope like vaccines, that drives optimism probably ahead of where it should be and clearly ahead of the economy,” said Richard Steinberg, chief market strategist at Colony Group in Florida.

At 10:01 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 575.66 points, or 2.35%, at 25,040.82, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 54.53 points, or 1.85%, at 3,009.98, and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 126.77 points, or 1.36%, at 9,451.36.

U.S. biotech group Novavax Inc (NVAX.O) jumped 17.3% as it joined the race to test coronavirus vaccine candidates on humans and enrolled its first participants.

Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) added 1.5% as it announced plans to develop two separate vaccines.

But with U.S. unemployment soaring beyond 14% and macroeconomic data pointing at a deep recession, analysts warned financial markets could be betting on too fast a recovery.

“Business cycles don’t simply end in two to three months – in a way that’s what some of these sectors are pricing. It’s going to be very slow,” said Patrick Fruzzetti, managing director and senior research analyst at the Rosenau Group.

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Beaten down travel-related stocks soared, with S&P 1500 airlines index .SPCOMAIR up 10.3% and cruise operators including Carnival Corp (CCL.N) more than 12%.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners more than 9-to-1 on the NYSE and 5-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 13 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 83 new highs and four new lows.

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Wall Street ends mixed as China-U.S. tensions weigh

(Reuters) – Wall Street ended mixed on Friday in a mostly tame finish to a week of strong gains, as investors gauged China-U.S. tensions and amid ongoing uncertainty about the pace of economic recovery from the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump’s warning on Thursday that the U.S. would react strongly to China’s plan for a national security law in Hong Kong has raised concerns over Washington and Beijing’s possibly reneging on their Phase 1 trade deal.

Late in the session, stocks edged lower after the U.S. Commerce Department said it was adding 33 Chinese companies and other institutions to an economic blacklist for human rights violations and to address U.S. national security concerns.

The increasing rhetoric between Washington and Beijing has knocked Wall Street off multi-month highs, although the three main indexes still all rose around 3% for the week, fueled by optimism about an eventual coronavirus vaccine and the easing of virus-related curbs.

“We still think COVID-19 concerns are in the driver’s seat, but we could see U.S.-China relations move back into the front seat,” said Eric Freedman, chief investment officer at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

U.S. stock exchanges will be closed on Monday for the Memorial Day holiday.

The Nasdaq index is down about 5% from its Feb. 19 record high, helped in recent weeks by gains in Microsoft, Amazon and other heavyweight companies seen coming out of the economic downturn stronger than their smaller rivals.

The S&P 500 real estate sector index jumped 2.2%, leading the 11 sectors, while energy dropped 0.7% as oil prices sank about 3%. [O/R]

A 1.9% drop in Chevron weighed on the Dow.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.04% to end at 24,465.16 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.24%, to 2,955.45. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.43% to 9,324.59.

For the week, the Dow added 3.3%, the S&P 500 rose 3.2%, and the Nasdaq climbed 3.4%.

Mixed earnings from retailers Walmart Inc, Best Buy Co Inc and Home Depot Inc earlier this week showed online shopping gaining traction with the lockdown orders, a trend that could damage brick-and-mortar players already feeling pressure from internet rivals.

On Friday, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group reported better-than-expected quarterly profit, but its shares tumbled almost 6%. Smaller rival Pinduoduo Inc’s U.S.-listed shares surged over 14% after the company posted upbeat results.

Nvidia climbed 2.9% after forecasting strong quarterly revenue as demand surges for its data center chips.

KKR & Co rose 1.1% after India’s Reliance Industries said the private equity firm would buy a 2.3% stake in its digital unit for 113.67 billion rupees ($1.50 billion).

Data analytics software maker Splunk Inc jumped over 12% after it said it expects more demand for its cloud services.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 8.75 billion shares, compared to the 11.2 billion average for the last 20 trading days.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.17-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.30-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted six new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 62 new highs and nine new lows.

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Wall Street set for muted open on simmering U.S.-China tensions

(Reuters) – U.S. stock indexes were set for a near-flat open on Friday as investors weighed hopes of more stimulus to revive an ailing economy against simmering Sino-U.S. trade tensions.

China on Friday unveiled details about its plan to impose a national security law in Hong Kong that could see mainland intelligence agencies set up bases in the global financial hub, raising fears of more pro-democracy protests.

Reports of the law on Thursday had drawn fire from President Donald Trump, toppling Wall Street’s main indexes from multi-month highs that were hit on optimism around a revival in business activity with the easing of coronavirus-led lockdowns.

“Market sentiment is really vulnerable to expensive valuation at the moment,” said Andrea Cicione, head of strategy at TS Lombard.

“After the shock of the COVID-19 lockdown, we have to go through a regular recession with high unemployment, low capex, low demand and that’s not what’s priced in at the moment.”

At 8:37 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 21 points, or 0.09%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 2.5 points, or 0.09% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 9 points, or 0.1%.

A swathe of mixed retail earnings from Walmart Inc, Best Buy Co Inc and Home Depot Inc earlier in the week had shown online shopping gaining traction due to the stay-at-home orders.

On Friday, Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, but its shares slipped 1.6%. Smaller rival Pinduoduo Inc’s U.S.-listed shares gained 1.2% after its own upbeat quarterly earnings report.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise fell 7.3% after missing second-quarter revenue and profit estimates, hit by global lockdowns since February.

Data analytics software maker Splunk Inc rose 5.8% after saying it expects higher demand for its cloud services as people around the world take to working from home.

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S&P gains as investors juggle pandemic fears with recovery prospects

(Reuters) – The S&P edged higher on Thursday as investors weighed the prospect of additional stimulus and states reopening for business against bellicose remarks from President Donald Trump about U.S.-China trade negotiations and dire warnings from a whistleblower about the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow joined the S&P in the black, while tech shares held the Nasdaq in negative territory.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the governor’s lockdown orders, fueling hopes that mandated restrictions could be lifted sooner rather than later.

But an ousted health official testified before a U.S. House of Representatives panel that the United States could face “the darkest winter” if its response to the pandemic failed to improve.

Comments by Trump late Wednesday blamed China for the coronavirus outbreak and revived trade war fears, even as mandated lockdowns continue to damage the economy.

That damage was in evidence in a report from the U.S. Labor Department, which showed just under 3 million new jobless claims last week, pushing the seven-week tally well over 36 million.

“Going forward, we’re looking at how quickly jobs are going to come back to the economy,” said Charlie Ripley, senior market strategist for Allianz Investment Management in Minneapolis. “And we’re not going to get a clear picture of that until we see where consumer demand is at.”

A White House spokeswoman said President Trump is open to another possible stimulus bill, which could further support economic recovery.

Economic and fiscal stimulus is keeping buyers in the market, said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York wrote in a research note.

In a research note, Moya wrote “The economic outlook will remain uncertain until a vaccine is in place, but a complete selloff is unlikely when trillions of dollars keep getting put into the economy.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 157.61 points, or 0.68%, to 23,405.58, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 6.31 points, or 0.22%, to 2,826.31 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 18.64 points, or 0.21%, to 8,844.53.

Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, seven were higher, led by financial .SPSY and energy .SPNY stocks.

First-quarter earnings season is on the final stretch, with 451 of the companies in the S&P 500 having reported. Of those, 66.7% have beaten consensus, according to Refinitiv data.

In aggregate, earnings for the first three months of the year are seen falling by 12.1% from the year-ago quarter, a stark reversal from the 6.3% annual growth seen on Jan. 1.

Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) rose 4.2% after its earnings beat, driven by a jump in demand for its work-from-home networking equipment.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.61-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.01-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted four new 52-week highs and 16 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 18 new highs and 110 new lows.

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Futures climb ahead of Fed Chair Powell's address

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose on Wednesday, after Wall Street’s main indexes fell sharply in the previous session, with markets also awaiting comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell amid recent speculation over negative interest rates.

Futures traders began pricing in the possibility of negative rates last week and President Donald Trump piled pressure on the Fed again on Tuesday, as the economy reels from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, several members of the U.S. central bank have recently said they do not see a need for borrowing costs, now near zero, to move into negative territory. Powell’s webcast address is expected to start at 9 a.m. ET (1300 GMT).

“Powell will probably reaffirm that negative rates are not on the cards, putting him on another collision course with the President,” said Raffi Boyadjian, senior investment analyst at XM.

“Depending on how strongly Powell rejects the possibility of negative rates, Wall Street looks vulnerable to sell offs.”

Unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus actions as well as hopes of an economic recovery have been vital in helping the three main U.S. stock indexes rise about 30% from their March lows.

However, the rally paused this week as a spike in cases in Germany, South Korea and China and a warning from a top U.S. health expert spurred worries of a second wave of coronavirus infections as lockdowns are slowly lifted in several countries.

At 8:15 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 163 points, or 0.69%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 19.25 points, or 0.67% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 76.75 points, or 0.85%.

Generic drugmaker Mylan NV rose 1.7% premarket after it signed a licensing agreement with Gilead Sciences Inc for Gilead’s remdesivir drug, which recently received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization to treat COVID-19 patients.

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Futures edge higher on hopes of economic recovery

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures ticked higher on Tuesday on hopes that the easing of virus-led business shutdowns would help jump-start a battered global economy, with investors also weighing the risks of reopening too soon.

Adding to the upbeat mood, China announced a new list of 79 U.S. products including ores of rare earth metals, gold ores and silver ores for waivers from retaliatory tariffs.

Trade tensions between the two countries resurfaced recently, but optimism about a recovery in business activity and massive stimulus measures have helped the S&P 500 climb about 34% from the lows of a pandemic-driven selloff in March.

“We’re in a very choppy period where we don’t really collapse or don’t go much higher,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

“Things are going to begin to normalize. But what the market is looking out for is what does normalization mean and what is its impact on corporations and the economy.”

Wuhan reported its first cluster of coronavirus infections since a lockdown on the city, stoking concerns of a wider resurgence.

Later on Tuesday, top U.S. health authorities will testify to a Senate committee looking into plans for lifting the nation’s lockdown.

Wall Street’s fear gauge slipped for the fourth day running, hitting a ten-week low, even as data showed U.S. consumer prices in April dropped by the most since the Great Recession, weighed down by a plunge in demand for gasoline and services including airline travel.

The focus for this week is the retail report for April due on Friday.

At 8:43 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 104 points, or 0.43%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 10.25 points, or 0.35% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 34.25 points, or 0.37%.

Among stocks, BlackRock Inc dropped 3.2% in premarket trade as its top shareholder PNC Financial Services Group Inc planned to sell its entire 22% stake in the world’s largest asset manager.

Simon Property Group Inc jumped 11.3% as the biggest U.S. mall operator said it would have about half of its more than 200 retail properties in the country open within the next week.

Smaller rival Macerich Co climbed 8.3% as it expected to open a vast majority of its properties by mid-June.

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Wall Street tumbles as renewed tariff threat adds to uncertainties

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street sold off sharply on Friday after President Donald Trump revived a threat of new tariffs against China in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought global economies to a grinding halt.

All three major U.S. stock averages closed down well over 2%, and for the week they all lost ground.

May is often marked by sell-offs, and on the month’s first day, with jitters on the rise as some U.S. states begin easing coronavirus shutdowns, the adage held true.

“Markets had a very strong April as they looked through the valley of economic weakness to a point when stimulus will reignite economic growth,” said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York. “But it could be a longer and deeper valley than many hoped.”

Indeed, stocks had a remarkable run in April, with the S&P 500 and the Dow both posting their strongest monthly percentage gains in 33 years.

Trump said his administration was crafting retaliatory measures against China as punishment for the coronavirus outbreak, once again sparking tariff fears that rattled markets through much of the last two years. Trump has blamed China for what he says is “misinformation” when the virus emerged from the Chinese city of Wuhan and then quickly spread around the world.

“Trump poking China was the last thing markets needed given so much present economic and financial uncertainty,” Carter added.

A mixed bag of earnings, particularly a disappointing report from Amazon.com (AMZN.O), along with a fresh round of dismal economic data, also weighed on sentiment.

U.S. manufacturing activity skidded to an 11-year low last month as lockdowns shuttered factories, according to the Institute for Supply Management’s purchasing managers index.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 622.03 points, or 2.55%, to 23,723.69, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 81.72 points, or 2.81%, to 2,830.71, and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 284.60 points, or 3.2%, to 8,604.95.

All 11 sectors of the S&P 500 closed in the red, with energy companies .SPNY suffering the largest percentage drop.

The corporate reporting season has crossed the midpoint, with 275 of the companies in the S&P 500 having reported quarterly results. Of those, 68% have beaten consensus estimates.

In aggregate, first-quarter S&P 500 earnings are seen having fallen 12.7% from a year ago, a stark reversal from the 6.3% annual growth forecast that stood on Jan. 1.

Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) plunged 10.3% after company Chief Executive Elon Musk said in a tweet that the electric car maker’s stock price was “too high.”

Amazon.com (AMZN.O) shares slid 7.6% after the online retailer warned pandemic-related expenses could lead to its first quarterly loss in five years.

Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) quarterly results beat expectations, but the iPhone maker declined to provide current-quarter forecasts. Its shares lost 1.6%.

Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) dropped 7.2% after the company reported a drop in profit due to a massive $3 billion writedown on plummeting oil demand and prices.

Rival Chevron Corp CVX.O posted a 38% profit increase, boosted by asset sales, and slashed spending plans. Its shares dipped 2.8%.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 5.23-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 4.40-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 17 new highs and 12 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 10.17 billion shares, compared with the 12.19 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

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Wall Street set to open higher on signs of lockdown easing

(Reuters) – U.S. stock markets were set to gain at the open on Friday as some states prepared to relax curbs imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak, with a surprise rise in orders for U.S.-made capital goods also lifting sentiment.

From Tennessee and Texas to Ohio and Montana, governors announced plans to swiftly allow a return to business for some workplaces on signs the pandemic was peaking in some of the worst hit parts of the country.

“We are past the peak and slowly, but surely, all the states that have not had major cases will gradually re-open, and the market is taking that as a signal that demand is going to come back,” said Thomas Hayes, managing member at Great Hill Capital LLC in New York.

Early sentiment was also supported by the latest $500 billion relief package that cleared the U.S. House of Representatives the previous day. The bill is with President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.

The benchmark S&P 500 .SPX is still 17% below its record high despite gaining ground this month and investors fear a deep economic slump following a crash in business activity.

On Friday, however, data showed orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, edged up 0.1% last month, compared with economists’ expectations of a 6% plunge.

“Maybe it does tell us that the potential for recovery is slightly better than what was anticipated,” Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors in London said.

The CBOE volatility index , known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, was down for the third straight session.

Oil-related companies Exxon Mobil (XOM.N), Chevron Corp (CVX.N), Apache Corp (APA.N) and Devon Energy Corp (DVN.N) rose between 1.6% and 6.5% in premarket trading as oil prices recovered after a historic collapse earlier in the week.

At 09:06 a.m. EDT, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were up 195 points, or 0.84%, S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 25.75 points, or 0.93% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were up 57.5 points, or 0.67%.

Overall, analysts expect a 14.1% decline in S&P 500 first-quarter earnings, with profits for the energy sector estimated to slump nearly 60%, raising fears of debt defaults, layoffs and possible bankruptcies.

Intel Corp (INTC.O) fell 4.6% after the chipmaker forecast second-quarter earnings below expectations and said it could not issue a forecast for the full year.

Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) inched lower as it lost 68,000 phone subscribers who pay a monthly bill in the first quarter.

American Express Co (AXP.N) posted a 76% drop in first-quarter profit as the credit card issuer braced for potential losses stemming from the coronavirus outbreak. Its shares rose 1.9%.

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Wall Street falls as U.S. crude collapse compounds pandemic woes

(Reuters) – Wall Street retreated for a second straight day on Tuesday as a collapse in U.S. crude prices and glum annual profit forecasts by companies foreshadowed the biggest economic slump since the Great Depression due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Almost all the major S&P 500 sub-sectors fell more than 1%, with the energy index .SPNY sliding for the seventh time in eight sessions a day after the WTI contract CLc1 crashed below zero as oil traders ran out of storage for May deliveries.

With the collapse spilling into June futures contracts, investors turned fearful about the extent of the economic damage from sweeping lockdown measures that have halted business activity and sparked millions of layoffs.

“Yesterday, the historic oil crash had a limited impact on U.S. stocks, but that won’t be the case going forward as the rolling of contracts won’t wait so close to expiry,” said Edward Moya, market analyst at OANDA.

“Oil prices will remain heavy in the short-term and since many energy stocks have recently rebounded, they are ripe to see a lot of pain this week.”

The benchmark S&P 500 index .SPX has climbed over 25% from a March low, powered by trillions of dollars in stimulus, but still remained nearly 17% below its record high as entire countries shut down to try to contain the virus.

U.S. jobless claims hit 22 million in the past month as Corporate America launched dramatic cost-saving measures to ride out the slump, and readings of U.S. business activity surveys, due Thursday, are likely to plummet to recession-era lows.

The financials index .SPSY fell 1.9% as the flight from risk sent investors scurrying to the perceived safety of bonds and the dollar.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Republicans and Democrats had agreed on a fourth coronavirus spending bill to aid small businesses and the deal would be passed in the Senate later in the day.

Last week, big U.S. banks kicked off the first-quarter U.S. corporate earnings season with dismal 2020 forecasts and major companies have since announced dividend cuts and withdrawn financial outlooks.

Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) provided the latest evidence of the damage wrought by the pandemic, saying its current-quarter results would take a severe hit from low demand for sodas.

Travelers Companies (TRV.N), the first of the big U.S. insurers to report results, reported a 25% fall in quarterly profit, hurt by higher catastrophe losses, but its shares rose 2.9%.

Among other Dow components, International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) slid 5.2% after the company withdrew its 2020 annual forecast late on Monday.

Chip industry bellwether Texas Instruments (TXN.O) is set to report its first-quarter earnings later in the day.

At 10:38 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 439.95 points, or 1.86%, at 23,210.49, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 58.43 points, or 2.07%, at 2,764.73 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 200.77 points, or 2.35%, at 8,359.96.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers more than 4-to-1 on the NYSE and 3-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded one new 52-week high and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 18 new highs and 20 new lows.

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