Stocks, oil fall further on virus, U.S. election angst

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks across the globe resumed their slide on Friday and oil headed for a double-digit weekly fall on continued concern over the economic impact of rising global coronavirus infections and ahead of Tuesday’s U.S. presidential election.

FILE PHOTO: The Wall Street sign is pictured at the New York Stock exchange (NYSE) in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

This week has seen global coronavirus cases rise by over 500,000 for the first time, with France and Germany preparing fresh lockdowns.

Underwhelming outlooks and results from some of Wall Street’s largest companies including Apple AAPL.O and Facebook FB.O further soured the mood and dragged U.S. stocks lower. The S&P 500 was on track for its largest weekly drop since March and its second consecutive monthly decline.

“There is a big sell-off in those big tech names because they didn’t live up to the hype and people are really worried about next week’s election,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh.

Ahead of the last campaign weekend, Republican President Donald Trump trails Democratic challenger Joe Biden in national opinion polls, as he has done for months, partly because of widespread disapproval of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.

Opinion polls in the most competitive states that will decide the election have shown a closer race, still favoring Biden.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 483.01 points, or 1.81%, to 26,176.1, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 72.89 points, or 2.20%, to 3,237.22 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 348.90 points, or 3.12%, to 10,836.69.

The S&P was on track to fall over 6% this week and more than 3% in October.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index .STOXX rose 0.18% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS shed 1.74%. Emerging market stocks lost 1.59%.

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Oil prices fell for the fourth time this week, weighed by demand concerns as COVID-19 cases swelled globally and fresh lockdowns were to start in Europe’s two largest economies.

“Many nations with high oil consumption across the world are seeing infection levels that they didn’t have even during the first wave,” said Paola Rodriguez-Masiu, Rystad Energy’s senior oil markets analyst.

“These infection levels are destined to bite oil demand, as traffic will be curbed to a minimum during the coming lockdowns.”

U.S. crude CLc1 fell 1.52% to $35.62 per barrel and Brent LCOc1 was at $37.45, down 0.53% on the day. Both were on track to fall over 10% this week alone.

The oil weakness led to a sell-off of some commodity-linked currencies, including the Russian rouble RUB=.

The dollar index, measuring the greenback against a basket of peers, was little changed on the day and was on track for only its second weekly gain of over 1% in more than six months as its safe-haven appeal shone this week.

The dollar index =USD rose 0.162%, with the euro EUR= down 0.26% to $1.1644.

Societe Generale FX analyst Kit Juckes said that given the recent imposition of a fresh lockdown in France, the positive growth data there – an 18.2% quarter-on-quarter jump – was not enough to outweigh virus concerns.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.02% versus the greenback at 104.64 per dollar, while the British pound GBP= was last trading at $1.2956, up 0.23% on the day.

A risk-on revival after the U.S. election could however see the dollar resume its slide from the March highs.

“Our month-end models show a backdrop that would favor a slightly weaker dollar,” said Mazen Issa, senior currency strategist at TD Securities in New York.

Treasury yields ticked up, with benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last down 7/32 in price to yield 0.8585%, from 0.836% late on Thursday.

Spot gold XAU= added 0.7% to $1,880.11 an ounce. Silver XAG= gained 1.26% to $23.57.

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