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Stocks Stumble in Late Trading and Finish Down as Dow Gives Up 900 Points

Stocks gave up gains in late trading. Investors earlier had bid up stocks strongly on optimism that major economies across the globe were seeing signs the coronavirus pandemic could be slowing.

Stocks gave up earlier gains in volatile late day trading Tuesday as investors reacted to the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which had been up 937 points, or more than 4%, at its session high, finished down 26 points, or 0.12%, to 22,653.86. The S&P 500 was off 0.16%, and the Nasdaq ended down 0.33%.

On Monday, indications that the rate of the death toll from the coronavirus and new infections might be hitting their peak boosted U.S. equities. The Dow jumped 1,627 points, or 7.73%, to 22,679, the S&P 500 soared 7.03% and the Nasdaq rose 7.33%.

"That action is nice while it lasts, but clearly the outbreak data was going to turn favorably at some point with so much of the country shut down," said Yung-Yu Ma, chief strategy officer at BMO Wealth Management. 

"The more relevant question for the coming months is what life looks like once we are well past the peak - in the summer, fall, and even winter. Will ongoing 'waves' of outbreaks continue to disrupt our lives? Will the weather effects surprise to the upside or downside? Will currently unproven treatments be shown to soften the severity of symptoms? To what degree will spending patterns remain disrupted? 

"Great uncertainties remain about these questions and the course of the outbreak more generally," the analyst added. "The economy and markets are likely to follow the trajectory of these difficult-to-predict developments in the coming months." 

The next stimulus bill from Congress to support the U.S. economy during the coronavirus crisis will be at least another $1 trillion, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats on a private conference call, Bloomberg reported.

The first round of stimulus - a $2.2 trillion virus relief bill - was signed into law in late March.

Meantime, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he hoped to garner on Thursday additional funding for small businesses that have been bludgeoned by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The number of confirmed global cases of the coronavirus has risen to 1,407,123, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and deaths increased to 80,759.

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The U.S. has 383,256 cases of the coronavirus, the most in the world, according to Johns Hopkins CSSE. Deaths in the U.S. have risen to 12,401.

China reported no new deaths from the coronavirus on Tuesday. In New York - the U.S. epicenter for the outbreak - 731 more deaths were reported, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the largest one-day increase. But hospitalizations have been slowing.

So far, 5,489 people in the New York have died from the coronavirus, accounting for roughly half of all deaths in the U.S.

3M  (MMM)  reached an agreement with the Trump administration to import 166.5 million protective masks from its manufacturing facility in China for use by healthcare workers in the U.S. Tge company would still be allowed to export masks to Canada and Latin America.

Trump last week invoked the 1950 Defense Production Act to force the company to stop exporting the N95 masks. The move, however, outraged many officials in Canada.

“3M and the administration worked together to ensure that this plan does not create further humanitarian implications for countries currently fighting the Covid-19 outbreak,” the company said in a statement. 

“The plan will also enable 3M to continue sending U.S. produced respirators to Canada and Latin America, where 3M is the primary source of supply.”

Exxon Mobil  (XOM)  said Tuesday it planned to cut back its multiyear investment spree in shale, natural gas and deep-water oil production and it will cut planned capital spending this year by $10 billion. The energy major made the moves as the coronavirus pandemic has slammed both energy demand and oil prices.

The largest U.S. oil producer said it had set its 2020 capital expenditures at $23 billion, and may reduce that even further if warranted. 

Exxon had previously said it expected spending of as much as $33 billion this year. It spent $26 billion last year.