Stocks finished mixed Wednesday as investors focused on the U.S. economic recovery but contended with a rise in coronavirus infections in many countries across the globe.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 170 points, or 0.65%, to 26,119 and the S&P 500 slipped 0.36%.
Stocks had finished higher on Tuesday after U.S. retail sales in May rebounded strongly. The rise came as states eased lockdown measures and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated the central bank would continue to use all its tools to support the economy through the coronavirus pandemic.
In an appearance before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Powell said "significant uncertainty remains about the timing and strength of the (U.S.) recovery."
And on Wednesday, before the House Financial Services Committee, Powell, responding to a question from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California), urged Congress not to "pull back from the support that it’s providing too quickly.
"I wouldn’t presume to prescribe exactly what you should or shouldn’t do, but I would say it would be wise to look at ways to continue to support both people who are out of work and also smaller businesses that may not have vast resources,” Powell said.
Florida, Texas and Arizona this week set daily records for new coronavirus cases. The states are among 18 across the nation seeing a rise in cases from one week to the next, according to CNN.
The latest data from Johns Hopkins University say 2.15 million people in the U.S. have been infected with the coronavirus and more than 117,000 have died.
In Beijing on Wednesday, stocks gained 0.14% even after more than 1,200 flights in and out of the city were canceled and schools were closed because of a coronavirus flareup.
Construction of new homes in the U.S. rose 4.3% in May, according to the Commerce Department, as Americans returned to work following two months of coronavirus-triggered lockdowns.
"In short, the housing market is on track for the fastest and most complete recovery of any sector in the economy," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
Mortgage rates, meanwhile, fell to a record low last week, prompting the biggest rise in purchase applications in more than a decade.
Oil prices declined Wednesday after the Energy Information Administration reported that crude inventories in the U.S. rose by 1.2 million barrels during the week ended June 12.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil was down 0.7% to $38.11 a barrel.