S&P 500, Dow slip as Apple store closures spark economy revival worries

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Dow eased in volatile trading on Friday following Apple’s move to temporarily shut some U.S. stores again after a spike in coronavirus cases rekindled fears of business disruptions as the economy emerges from lockdowns.

The iPhone maker fell 0.5% after saying it would shut stores again in Florida, Arizona, South Carolina and North Carolina, which have recently reported an uptick in new COVID-19 infections.

“This (Apple news) is contrary to what many believe that no matter how bad the virus got, businesses and communities would not shut back down,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

Risk of a resurgence of the virus outbreak have led to choppy trading sessions this week. Still, the S&P 500 and the Dow are headed for their fourth weekly rise in five on bets of a swift post-pandemic bounce back in business activity.

Trading volumes are likely to spike in Friday’s session on account of “quadruple witching,” as investors unwind interests in futures and options contracts prior to expiration. It also coincides with a delayed quarter-end rebalancing which could exaggerate market volatility.

The benchmark S&P 500 and the blue-chip Dow slipped after rising more than 1% earlier, as an increase in oil prices supported views of an economic recovery.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq, which briefly dipped into the negative territory, was last up 0.2%, with Amazon.com Inc and Facebook Inc providing the biggest boost. The Nasdaq opened above its all-time closing high on June 10.

At 1:12 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 99.50 points, or 0.38%, at 25,980.60, the S&P 500 was down 5.53 points, or 0.18%, at 3,109.81. The Nasdaq Composite was up 16.68 points, or 0.17%, at 9,959.73.

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc rose 0.8% on plans to reopen theaters at about 450 locations in the United States next month and the company expects to return to full-seating capacity around Thanksgiving.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the economic recovery from the pandemic is set to be challenging and there will be no quick fix, reinforcing his recent cautionary stance at a video conference on Friday.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.15-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.08-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 18 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 114 new highs and two new lows.

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