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Dow Ticks Lower, Nasdaq Rises Ahead of Tech Earnings

Stocks end mixed amid questions about whether the Biden White House will be able to deliver another round of stimulus.

Stocks finished mixed on Monday amid questions about whether the Biden White House will be able to deliver another round of stimulus for the struggling U.S. economy and as investors prepared for a week heavy with tech earnings.

Bloomberg reported that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said lawmakers would try to pass a stimulus package in a month at the earliest.

“We’ll try to get that passed in the next month, month and a half,” Schumer said with regard to pandemic aid. Bloomberg noted that that would be just when jobless benefits from the last package will be running out.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished off 37 points, or 0.12%, to 30,960, and the S&P 500 rose 0.36%, closing at a record high of 3,855.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq finished up 0.69% and posted a record close of 13,635. Prominent gainers were vaccine producer Moderna,  (MRNA) - Get Moderna Inc. Report up 12%, internet-tech provider NetEase  (NTES) - Get NetEase Inc. 網易 Report, up 6.5%, and media company Fox  (FOXA) - Get Fox Corporation Report, up 6.4%.

President Joe Biden has been pushing for passage of a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief proposal. Officials in his administration have tried to head off Republican concerns that the package is too expensive, according to a report from Reuters.

Lawmakers from both parties agreed that getting the covid-19 vaccine to Americans should be a priority, but some have focused on a smaller plan targeting vaccine distribution.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), for one, said it "seems premature to be considering a package of this size and scope.” She said additional funding was needed for vaccine distribution but in a “more limited” bill, Reuters reported.

Deaths in the U.S. from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, have risen beyond 419,000 and confirmed infections have passed 25 million. Global infections, meanwhile, were closing in on 100 million. 

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Biden has promised 100 million vaccine shots in his first 100 days. But the new administration has struggled to improve vaccine distribution, criticizing the Trump administration's vaccine rollout as "chaotic" and "very limited."

On Monday afternoon, Biden signed an executive order intended to promote his "Buy American" agenda.

Meanwhile, Anthony Fauci, the immunologist who directs the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he was worried about a push to delay administering the second dose of Covid-19 vaccines to speed immunizations.

“I’d be concerned because you don’t get full efficacy until you get that second dose,” Fauci said at a forum moderated by Bloomberg.

Tech stocks will lead the busiest week of the fourth-quarter earnings season, with reports expected from the likes of Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc. Report, Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report, Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report, Advanced Micro Devices  (AMD) - Get Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Report and Facebook  (FB) - Get Meta Platforms Inc. Report.

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Wall Street also will be focused this week on the first Federal Reserve policy meeting of the year, which begins Tuesday, and the first reading of fourth-quarter gross domestic product.