Stocks ended lower Monday as Wall Street's optimism about the rollout of coronavirus vaccines was dashed by a climb in infections and fears of tougher restrictions and lockdowns.
Also focusing Wall Street's attention were Tuesday’s runoff elections in Georgia, which will set the balance of the Senate and the legislative agenda of President-elect Joe Biden.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 382 points, or 1.25%, to 30,223, the S&P 500 fell 1.48% and the Nasdaq declined 1.47%. The Dow and S&P 500 had set intraday records soon after markets opened Monday.
At one point in Monday's trading the Dow 30 were down as much as 2.4%. The Nasdaq Composite was down as much as 2.7%.
Stocks closed higher Thursday, the last trading session of 2020, with the Dow and S&P 500 setting records as a volatile year, brutally disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, ended.
The blue-chip Dow rose 7.3% in 2020, the S&P 500 gained 16.3% - at its pandemic low in March the index had been down more than 30% - and the tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped 43.6%, its best annual performance since 2009.
Traders are “perhaps a bit over-eager” but say that vaccines will “provide the ultimate economic kick-start, offering a massive booster shot to corporate profits,” said Stephen Innes of Axi.
U.S. deaths from the coronavirus reached 352,645, and infections in the country jumped to about 20.74 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. Globally, more than 85.5 million people have contracted the virus.
The passage in late 2020 of a $2.3 trillion spending bill, which included nearly$1 trillion for coronavirus relief, has underpinned domestic stocks ahead of the two key runoff elections in Georgia.
The importance of that vote, which has attracted nearly $500 million in ad spending and a record 3 million mail-in ballots, was underscored Sunday by the release of a telephone call. In that call outgoing President Donald Trump attempted to pressure Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find the votes necessary to overturn the results of November's presidential election.
Tesla (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report rose 3.4% Monday after the electric-vehicle company said over the weekend that it met its 2020 goal of producing at least half a million cars but narrowly missed its aggressive delivery target following a record year fueled by China demand for its Model 3 sedan.
Magellan Health (MGLN) - Get Magellan Health, Inc. Report finished up 13% after agreeing to be acquired by Centene (CNC) - Get Centene Corporation Report for $95 a share cash. The enterprise value of the deal is $2.2 billion.
Bitcoin, the world's largest cryptocurrency, fell as much as 20% on Monday after topping $34,000 on Sunday. Bitcoin had hit $30,000 for the first time in its history the day before.