Wall Street set for lower open as coronavirus cases flare up

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes were set to open lower on Wednesday, a day after Nasdaq hit another closing high, as investors assessed the risk to the domestic economy from a rise in coronavirus cases in several U.S. states.

Washington state made face masks mandatory in public places, while many other U.S. states saw record cases, including Arizona and Texas, where restrictions meant to slow its spread were lifted early.

The top U.S. infectious disease official Anthony Fauci said the next two weeks could be critical in containing the outbreak.

A slate of better-than-expected economic data, easing lockdowns and massive stimulus measures have powered the Nasdaq to an all-time high and put the benchmark S&P 500 on track for its best quarterly performance since 1975.

The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrials are just about 7% and 11.5% from their respective February record closing highs.

“When you have a market that has rebounded so exceptionally quickly from the lows, these sort of day-to-day reversals could be investors taking a breather really,” said Allen Sukholitsky, chief macro strategist at Xallarap Advisory in New York.

“The hopes of swift recover are absolutely intact and at least through the end of the year the market is going to move considerably higher.”

At 8:18 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 186 points, or 0.71%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 17.75 points, or 0.57% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 21.25 points, or 0.21%.

U.S. airlines, resorts and cruise operators, who are among the worst hit by the pandemic’s fallout, declined with United Airlines Holdings Inc, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd down between 3% and 4% in premarket trading.

Carnival Corp declined 4.9% as ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded its bonds to junk status, forecasting continued weak demand for the cruise industry.

Shares of U.S. lenders, which tend to outperform when the outlook for the economy improves, also slipped. Bank of America Corp, Citigroup Inc and Goldman Sachs fell between 0.7% and 1.2%.

High-flying technology companies Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp eased from record levels after powering the tech-heavy Nasdaq to a fresh peak in the previous session.

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