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1:15 PM EDT - Wall Street is on the ropes. On point, just two days after the Dow Jones Industrial Average had fallen by 650 points, after an intraday loss of 965 points, the blue chips are getting pounded once more. Specifically, as we hit the 1:00 hour on the East Coast, the Dow is off by more than 800 points.

And the selling is not limited to our shores, as Europe's bourses were pummeled earlier today, with Germany's DAX shedding 4%. The issues on the Continent are similar to those here, namely the rampaging coronavirus. In France, for example a 4-week lockdown is being put into place.

In our country, such dire steps are not now planned, but with COVID-19 cases rising in 40 of the 50 states, business is bound to suffer. Add in the inability of Congress to fashion a comprehensive fiscal stimulus deal, and the selling is not too surprising.

All told, in addition to the Dow's current 843-point deficit, the S&P 500 is off 102 points and the NASDAQ is lower by a staggering 367 points. There is no place to hide as yet today. – Harvey S. Katz, CFA

At the time of this article’s writing, the author held positions in one or more of the companies mentioned.

Before The Bell - After a sharp drop in the stock market on Monday, as worries about the inability to fashion a needed fiscal stimulus package and fears of rising COVID-19 combined to take stocks down notably, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average off by 650 points after a mid-session plunge of 965 points, stock movements were much more muted yesterday. Specifically, the morning ended on a mixed note, with the Dow lower while the S&P 500 Index and the NASDAQ were in the plus column on strength in some tech equities. 

Once more, there were concerns about dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases, especially in the hard-hit upper Midwest, and the inability to come together on a comprehensive fiscal stimulus package concerned investors. The consensus now is that any deal likely will wait until after the November 3rd election. That somber sentiment is clearly not being welcomed by Wall Street traders.

As to the economy, which continues to struggle, there was mixed news released yesterday morning. On the one hand there was a report issued showing a nice gain in orders for durable goods in September following a scant increase in August. On the other hand, rising COVID-19 cases contributed to a slight dip in the Consumer Confidence Index in October.

So, the equity market continued to drift, with the Dow staying in the red through the late afternoon with that composite falling by close to 200 points as we entered the final hour of trading. The S&P 500 Index was going in and out of the plus column while the NASDAQ remained higher.

Meanwhile, things did not get any better as the final hour got under way, and after a very half-hearted attempt to rally during the final stand, the market would end at session lows with the Dow surrendering 222 points on the day bringing the two-day total loss in the blue chips to nearly 900 points. The S&P 500 fell 10 points, but the NASDAQ, boosted by gains in some large tech issues, rose 72 points.

As for individual issues, shares of tech icon Apple (AAPL) rose modestly on the day, helping the NASDAQ to advance nicely, but another tech stock, this one domiciled on the NYSE, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), fell back rather sharply. Then, after the close, another tech giant Microsoft (MSFT) posted better-than-expected results on both the top and bottom lines, however, weak revenue guidance pushed the stock lower in extended trading. 

Finally, we look out at the middle session of the week and to added earnings reports, but to no economic news of note. That will all change tomorrow when we get our first look at third-quarter GDP, where a gain in excess of 30% is possible. We also will get the weekly look at first-time jobless claims. Ahead of all this, the markets in Europe are all down sharply as rising coronavirus cases bring the threat of fresh lockdowns. On our shores, the increasing COVID-19 toll and the absence of a stimulus deal are proving a potent one-two combination and the equity futures are poised to open the latest session sharply to the downside. – Harvey S. Katz, CFA  


At the time of this article’s writing, the author held positions in one or more of the companies mentioned.