The New York Stock Exchange held a minute of silence in honor of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Monday. Ginsburg died of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer Friday at the age of 87. (Sept. 21)

AP Domestic

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are drifting in early trading on Wall Street Tuesday, with indexes mixed, a day after tumbling amid  worries about the pandemic and governments’ response to it.

The S&P 500 was 0.1% higher after giving up a healthier gain of 0.7% just after trading began. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 37 points, or 0.1%, at 27,107 after losing an earlier gain, as of 9:54 a.m. Eastern time. The Nasdaq composite was virtually flat.

Wall Street has suddenly lost momentum in September following months of powerful gains that returned the S&P 500 to a record. A long list of concerns for investors has caused big swings in the market, from worries that stocks have grown too expensive to frustration about Congress’ refusal so far to deliver more aid to the struggling economy.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is scheduled to give testimony before a House of Representatives committee later Tuesday, where investors expect him to press again for Congress to act. Extra weekly unemployment benefits and other stimulus that Congress approved in March have expired, and some areas of the economy have already slowed as a result.

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That support from Congress, along with unprecedented moves by the Fed to aid markets, helped halt the S&P 500′s nearly 34% plummet earlier this year. Investors say it’s crucial that Congress extended more support, but partisan disagreements have blocked the efforts.

The sudden vacancy on the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is amping up partisanship across the country, diminishing hopes even further.

Among other concerns for investors are rising tensions between the United States and China, which could lead to a Chinese retaliation against U.S tech companies, as well as the upcoming U.S. elections and all the changes in tax policy and regulations they can create.

All those factors combined to knock the S&P 500 down as much as 2.7% in Monday’s trading. Early in the day, Big Tech stocks were among the weights pulling the market lower.

They have lost momentum this month on worries their stocks grew too expensive following a supersonic run through the pandemic. Apple, Amazon and others have benefited from the pandemic because it’s accelerated work-from-home and other trends that boost their profits.

But tech stocks staged a late-day turnaround on Monday, helping the S&P 500 to more than halve its losses. Tech stocks were swinging between small gains and losses in early Tuesday trading and dragging broad market indexes in their wake due to their huge size.

Apple gained 1.3%, and Microsoft rose 0.4%. Amazon climbed 2.1%.

Stocks of companies whose profits are most closely tied to the strength of the economy clawed back some of their sharp losses from the day before, but their movements were also erratic.

Norwegian Cruise Line gained 1.8%, though it’s still down 6.2% for the week so far. Energy stocks in the S&P 500 rose as much as 1.6% in the first 20 minutes of trading, only to give all the gains away.

European stocks recovered some of their steep losses from Monday, which were triggered in part by worries that stricter restrictions on businesses may be on the way to stem a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday announced a package of new restrictions, including requiring pubs and restaurants to close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m, but analysts said they were less extreme than some investors worried.

Germany’s DAX returned 1.1%, though it’s still down 3.3% for the week so far. France’s CAC 40 rose 0.5%, and the FTSE 100 in London added 0.8%.

In Asia, South Korea’s Kospi fell 2.4%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1% and stocks in Shanghai sank 1.3%.

Treasury yields dipped slightly, and the 10-year yield slipped to 0.67% from 0.68% late Monday.


AP Business Writer Elaine Kurtenbach contributed.

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