US STOCKS-Wall Street set to drop on fears over new coronavirus strain

  • Reuters
US STOCKS-Wall Street set to drop on fears over new coronavirus strain

(For a live blog on the U.S. stock market, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window.)

* Travel stocks lead declines on disruption fears

* Big banks jump after Fed's stress test results

* U.S. Congress set to vote on $900 bln relief bill

* Tesla slips from record high ahead of S&P 500 debut

* Futures down: Dow 1.69%, S&P 1.90%, Nasdaq 1.18%

(Adds comment; updates share prices)

By Ambar Warrick and Devik Jain

Dec 21 (Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes were set to fall from record levels on Monday, with travel stocks leading declines, as concerns over a new strain of the coronavirus in Britain prompted investors to lock in profits.

The strain, which is said to be up to 70% more transmissible than the original, forced major European countries to shut their borders with the UK and sowed fears of further economic disruptions. stocks tumbled in trading before the bell, with United Airlines Holdings Inc UAL.O , Delta Air Lines Inc (NYSE: DAL ) DAL.N and American Airlines Group Inc AAL.O , falling between 3.7% and 4.4%.

Cruise operators Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd RCL.N , Carnival Corp (LON: CCL ) CCL.N and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd NCLH.N also fell between 5.8% and 7.6%.

"Profit-taking could be a part of it ... people get nervous because of the new strain. You're seeing people reacting, rather than thinking first," said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth in New York.

The CBOE Volatility Index .VIX , also known as Wall Street's "fear gauge", jumped 29.7 points to its highest level since early November.

At 8:23 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were down 508 points, or 1.69%, S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were down 70.25 points, or 1.9%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were down 150 points, or 1.18%.

U.S. congressional leaders were poised to vote on a $900 billion stimulus package to provide fresh aid to the virus-stricken economy. Optimism over the bill had seen Wall Street indexes reach record highs last week. Sachs GS.N , Citigroup Inc (NYSE: C ) C.N , Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS ) MS.N , Bank of America Corp (NYSE: BAC ) BAC.N and JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM ) JPM.N rose between 1% and 3.3% after the Federal Reserve permitted major lenders to pay out dividends and buy back stock on a limited basis following a stress test. Inc NKE.N gained 5.9% amid a series of price target hikes on the stock after the athletic apparel maker raised its full-year revenue forecast. The stock was among the biggest gainers on the Dow in premarket trade. maker Tesla Inc TSLA.O , which has soared more than 730% so far this year, slipped 4.5% ahead of its much anticipated debut into the benchmark S&P 500 index .SPX . Martin Corp LMT.N fell 0.9% after it agreed to buy U.S. rocket engine manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc AJRD.N for $4.4 billion. Shares of Aerojet Rocketdyne were up 25.7%. Boeing (NYSE: BA ) Co BA.N slipped 4.7% on a U.S. Senate report that Boeing officials "inappropriately coached" test pilots during recertification efforts.

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