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Stocks Give Up Gains, Close Lower After Relief Optimism Wilts

Stocks close lower, off yesterday's records, after optimism about coronavirus relief wilted. At the open Tuesday, investors had taken stocks to record levels.
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Stocks finished lower, as early optimism over President Donald Trump's signing of the coronavirus relief package wilted when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) thwarted efforts to increase direct payments to hurting Americans.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 68 points, or 0.22%, to 30,335, the S&P 500 slipped 0.22%, while the Nasdaq Composite gave up 0.38%.

Leading the Dow 30 lower: Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report, off 1.3%, and Home Depot,  (HD) - Get Home Depot, Inc. Report down 1.1%.

Intel  (INTC) - Get Intel Corporation Report shares jumped on Tuesday after hedge fund Third Point urged the chipmaker to assess strategic alternatives, including possibly separating its design and manufacturing arms. Shares of the Santa Clara, Calif., company closed up 4.9%.

McConnell blocked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-New York) attempt to unanimously approve a House-passed bill to more than triple direct payments in the coronavirus relief package to $2,000 from $600. Trump and the Democrats had sought the increase.

Stocks closed at records Monday after Trump late Sunday signed a $2.3 trillion spending bill that includes nearly $1 trillion of coronavirus relief. 

House lawmakers, including a number of Republicans, last night voted 275-134 to expand the $600 direct payment agreed to in last week's $2.3 trillion spending bill to $2,000.

McConnell's decision hems in GOP lawmakers, who must choose between providing deeper relief for struggling American families or standing by their previous comments regarding the strength of the domestic economy and the size of the nation's ballooning budget deficit. 

The number of confirmed global deaths from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, reached nearly 1.8 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. Confirmed cases of the virus across the world have risen to more than 81.7 million.

The U.S. death toll is 336,947, the most in the world. The number of confirmed infected people in the U.S. was 19.4 million.

There were 150,092 new coronavirus cases in the U.S. as of Monday and 1,209 deaths, according to data from the university.

Boeing's  (BA) - Get Boeing Company Report 737 MAX, grounded since March 2019 after two fatal crashes, on Tuesday flew again with paying passengers. 

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American Airlines'  (AAL) - Get American Airlines Group, Inc. Report Flight 718 departed Miami International Airport around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday and landed at New York’s LaGuardia Airport at 1:10 p.m., The Wall Street Journal reported. 

American said that the flight was mostly full and that airline President Robert Isom was among the passengers.

Shares of Boeing, the Chicago aerospace giant, closed little changed at $216.26.

Snap  (SNAP) - Get Snap, Inc. Class A Report shares jumped 6.2% after Goldman Sachs boosted its price target on the parent of photo-focused social-media app Snapchat to a Wall-Street-high $70. 

Analyst Heath Terry affirmed a buy rating on Snap, which at last check rose 5.2% to $50.79. The stock had traded up as much as 11%. 

Amgen  (AMGN) - Get Amgen Inc. Report ended up 1.4%. Barron’s on Sunday had reported that the drugmaker has been augmenting mature hematology products like Neulasta with growth from autoimmune treatments like Otezla and cholesterol fighters like Repatha.

Arcturus Therapeutics  (ARCT) - Get Arcturus Therapeutics Holdings, Inc. Report shares lost more than half their market value as three analysts cut their ratings on the biopharma after a disappointing progress report on its coronavirus vaccine candidate.

Novavax  (NVAX) - Get Novavax, Inc. Report has begun a Phase 3 clinical trial of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine on up to 30,000 people at 115 sites in the U.S. and Mexico.

The shot from Novavax will become the fifth vaccine to enter final-stage testing in the U.S. Novavax shares closed up 2.9%.

Vaccines from Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Moderna, Inc. Report and Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report received authorization for emergency use from the Food and Drug Administration earlier in December. Vaccine candidates from Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson Report and AstraZeneca  (AZN) - Get Astrazeneca PLC Sponsored ADR Report are in large-scale trials.

If the results from Novavax's trial are positive, the vaccine could receive clearance sometime in 2021.

Apple and Boeing are holdings in Jim Cramer’s Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells these stocks? Learn more now.