Stocks slip as coronavirus deal still elusive, Tesla heads into S&P 500

Stocks slip as coronavirus deal still elusive, Tesla heads into S&P 500

U.S. equity markets closed modestly lower Friday as Congress continued to negotiate a COVID-19 relief package and as Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine neared U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 115 points or 0.%38 while the S&P was off 0.34% and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.07%.

Tesla was a standout, hitting a fresh record, before settling back as it will be added to the S&P 500 after the closing bell.

In Washington, top Republican and Democratic leaders continued to grapple over the size and scope of an aid package that is expected to extend unemployment benefits and Paycheck Protection Program funding and potentially deliver direct payments to most Americans.

Meanwhile, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Thursday endorsed Modern Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in a 20-0 vote, with one-panel member abstaining. Once the FDA grants emergency use authorization, Moderna will ship millions of doses nationwide, with health care workers and high-risk patients expected to receive the first vaccinations.

Elsewhere, the Trump administration placed Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., the largest Chinese chip manufacturer, and dozens of Chinese firms on the so-called entity list due to national security concerns, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said’ Maria Bartiromo on Friday.

And more details over the Russian cyber hack continue to emerge, as reported by the Associated Press.

“The hack compromised federal agencies and “critical infrastructure” in a sophisticated attack that was hard to detect and will be difficult to undo, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said in an unusual warning message Thursday. The Department of Energy acknowledged it was among those that had been hacked,” the AP reported.

Microsoft also disclosed some of its systems had been compromised.

In deals, Amsterdam-based Philips agreed to buy U.S. cardiac and diagnostics monitoring firm BioTelemetry for $2.8 billion, or $72 per share. The deal price represents a 16.5% premium to where shares closed on Thursday.

In earnings, FedEx Corp. reported earnings and revenue ahead of Wall Street estimates as revenue per package rose 7% during the three months through November.

Separately, President Trump thanked the company, along with UPS, for their vaccine delivery efforts during the storm that rocked the East coast.

Darden Restaurants Inc., the operator of restaurants including Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, said quarterly profit spiked 289% year over year as cost cuts more than offset limited dining capacities caused by COVID-19.

Nike Inc. was scheduled to report its quarterly results after the closing bell.

Looking at commodities, gold slipped $1.50 cents to 1,885.70 an ounce and West Texas Intermediate crude oil added 74 cents to $49.10 per barrel.

In economic data, the Leading Index for November came in slightly higher than expectations up 0.6% however the increase should be taken with a grain of salt.

“The US LEI continued rising in November, but its pace of improvement has been decelerating in recent months, suggesting a significant moderation in growth as the US economy heads into 2021,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director of Economic Research at The Conference Board.

European markets were trlower across the board with France’s CAC 40 sliding 0.39%, Britain’s FTSE 100 falling 0.33% and Germany’s DAX 30 slipping 0.27%.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index paced the decline, down 0.67%, while China’s Shanghai Composite and Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.29% and 0.16%, respectively.