Stocks fall but curb heavy losses as coronavirus bill toils on Capitol Hill

U.S. equity markets curbed the bulk of heavy losses Monday after the coronavirus relief bill faced more opposition from Democrats on Capitol Hill. The lack of progress outweighed another move by the Federal Reserve which announced "extensive new measures" to support the U.S. economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down nearly 600 points or 3 percent, while the S&P 500 lost nearly 3 percent and Nasdaq Composite, in light of the selling, held up little changed.

The Dow is on pace for the worst month since September of 1931 as noted by the Dow Jones Market Data Group.

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The standout was gold which posted its biggest one day percentage gain since March of 2009 closing around $1,557 an ounce.

The central bank said it would purchase Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities in the "amounts needed to support smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions and the economy."

In addition, the Fed launched three new lending facilities which will provide up to $300 billion in new financing to support the flow of credit to employers, consumers and businesses.

The losses come after the Senate failed to advance a $1.4 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package again Monday following the same situation Sunday evening with Democrats saying the bill went too far in helping big corporations and didn’t go far enough in aiding individuals and health care providers.

Looking at stocks, airlines, cruise operators, casino operators and other travel-related names traded mixed after surging Friday in anticipation of a stimulus package.

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Dow component Boeing was upgraded to “buy” at Goldman Sachs, which noted shares were attractive at these levels, down 80 percent from their 2019 highs.

Banks fell as heavy buying of U.S. Treasurys flattened the yield curve. The 2-year yield fell 10.4 basis points to 0.262 percent while the 10-year yield plunged 21.8 basis points to 0.72 percent.

Elsewhere, oil giant Shell halted its $25 billion share buyback program and said it was cutting spending by 20 percent to $20 billion, giving shares a lift. Rivals Exxon Mobil and Chevron slid as West Texas Intermediate crude oil traded up by 3.2 percent to the $23 per barrel level.

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In Europe, markets were lower with Britain’s FTSE pacing the decline, down 3.8 percent, after the U.K. government warned of a possible lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Elsewhere in the region, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC were off 2.6 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.

Asian market finished mixed with Japan’s Nikkei gaining 2.02 percent while China’s Shanghai Composite and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng tumbled 3.11 percent and 4.86 percent, respectively.

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