S&P 500, Dow gain on prospects of more stimulus

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Dow hovered at near three-week highs on Tuesday as investors looked for signs that Washington was close to agreeing on more fiscal stimulus, while a selloff in some of the biggest technology stocks weighed on the Nasdaq.

FILE PHOTO: A trader adjusts his mask as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., May 28, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke by phone on Monday about fresh relief measures and were preparing to talk again on Tuesday.

Six of the 11 major S&P indexes were trading higher, with gains led by the battered energy sector .SPNY. Real estate .SPLRCR and communication services .SPLRCL were among the biggest decliners in early trading.

“(There) seems to be a slight reduction in risk to the markets rather than a positive catalyst driving things higher,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Comments from officials that a stimulus deal was still possible had lifted the three main stock indexes on Monday, helping them recoup losses from last week that were sparked by news that President Donald Trump had contracted COVID-19.

Trump returned to the White House on Monday from the Walter Reed Medical Center military hospital, but faced fresh backlash for removing his mask upon his return and urging Americans not to fear the disease that has killed more than 209,000 in the United States.

All eyes later in the morning will be on an address by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell at a virtual meeting of the National Association for Business Economics, where global central bankers are likely to present their plans about how much more they can do to prevent an economic depression.

At 9:50 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 0.21%, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 0.11% and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 0.40%.

Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O, Apple Inc AAPL.O, Facebook Inc FB.O and Google-owner Alphabet Inc GOOGL.O, which have together dominated Wall Street’s recovery from its coronavirus-induced lows in March, fell between 0.7% and 1.4%.

The companies have faced intense regulatory scrutiny into their quest for global market share, and the U.S. House of Representatives’ antitrust report contains a “thinly veiled call to break up” the companies, Republican Congressman Ken Buck said in a draft response seen by Reuters.

U.S.-listed shares of BioNTech BNTX.O jumped 7.0% after the European health regulator said it had started a real-time review of the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the German biotech firm and U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc PFE.N. Pfizer’s shares rose 0.1%.

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc AMC.N gained 1.2% after the largest theater chain in the world said most of its theaters in the United States and Europe would remain open, with several releases lined up for October and November.

Shares of audio device makers Sonos Inc SONO.O and Logitech LOGN.S fell 3.6% and 4.8%, respectively, after their speakers were removed from Apple’s online stores.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 2.37-to-1 on the NYSE and 1.78-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 15 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 71 new highs and three new lows.

Reporting by Devik Jain and Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Maju Samuel