Democrats and Republicans in Washington are in the final two weeks of negotiations before the November 3 presidential election on new spending measures to boost the US economy after the coronavirus pandemic caused grievous damage earlier in the year.
Wall Street stocks were sharply lower early Wednesday, taking cues from European bourses that tumbled on fears of broad lockdowns in the continent to address rising coronavirus cases.
About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.4% at 27 072.15.
The broad-based also sank 1.6% to 3 336.05, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 2.0% to 11 204.48.
The losses came as worldwide coronavirus cases hit a new high of 500 000 on Tuesday, according to a tally from health authorities compiled by AFP.
French President Emmanuel Macron will address the nation this evening to present tougher restrictions as doctors warned many hospitals are just days away from being overrun with patients.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also seeking drastic new curbs, including fresh shutdowns hitting leisure, sports and the food and drink sectors as she holds crisis talks with Germany’s regional leaders to halt surging coronavirus infections and save the Christmas holiday season.
Besides the coronavirus, investors are also jittery over the US presidential election. Polls showing a tightening of the race in Florida and some other swing states have increased concerns about a potentially contested outcome.
“There is some renewed election uncertainty and there is an ample basis for buyers to keep to the sidelines, creating lower bids that have the potential to feed even lower prices,” said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O’Hare.
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