Wall Street retreats with earnings, Washington in view

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes slipped from record levels on Monday as investors took some profits as they waited for earnings season to begin and eyed events in Washington with caution.

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective face mask walks by a closed store, as the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, along Wall Street in the financial district of New York, U.S., November 19, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

U.S. stocks had rallied last week as investors bet that Democrats’ win of Georgia runoff elections would bring a higher likelihood of a heftier fiscal stimulus package to boost the pandemic-savaged economy.

Some investors worried stimulus may be delayed as House Democrats introduced a resolution to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump, accusing him of inciting insurrection following a violent attack on the Capitol by his supporters.

But Monday’s rising U.S. Treasury yields and outperformance in sectors such as energy and financials and suggested to Keith Lerner, chief market strategist at Truist Advisory Services in Atlanta, Georgia, that investors were still hopeful about stimulus.

“After last week the market is in a little bit of a digestion phase. Underneath the surface what you’re seeing continue is the reflation trade,” said Lerner. “This is a continuation of the expectation of more fiscal stimulus.”

But along with wariness about any surprises Trump’s last nine days in office could bring, Lerner also cited uncertainty ahead of the unofficial start of the fourth quarter earnings season on Friday when banks such as JPMorgan report results.

After the market’s big run up last week and in the last trading days of 2020, it is “somewhat impressive” there isn’t more profit taking, he said.

By 2:23 p.m. ET (1923 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 138.92 points, or 0.45%, to 30,959.05, the S&P 500 lost 27.41 points, or 0.72%, to 3,797.27 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 145.59 points, or 1.1%, to 13,056.39.

Real Estate, down 1.8%, and Communications Services, 1.5% lower, were the biggest percentage decliners among the S&P’s 11 major industry indexes.

Shares of the micro-blogging site Twitter Inc down around 7% was the biggest decliner in the communications sector after it permanently suspended Trump’s account. But it shares were still about 160% higher that where they traded before Trump won the Presidential election in 2016.

Other Big Tech firms Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc-owned Google and Apple Inc were also declining as they took their strongest actions yet against Trump to limit his social media reach.

Healthcare stocks hit a record high for the fifth straight session.

Investors are expecting guidance on the extent to which executives see a rebound in 2021 earnings and the economy when results and conference calls from JP Morgan, Citi and Wells Fargo kick off earnings season.

Boeing Co was down 2% on Monday after a 737-500 jet operated by Indonesia’s Sriwijaya Air crashed on Saturday, with 62 people on board.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.67-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.22-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 41 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 160 new highs and two new lows.

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