The boot on the statue of George Washington, the first US president, is seen across from the New York Stock Exchange.

NEW YORK (AFP) – Worrisome US economic data and concerns over a new coronavirus variant in Britain hit Wall Street and led US equities to close mostly lower on Tuesday (Dec 22).

The retreat came amid choppy trading in a holiday-shortened week and despite the overwhelming approval in Congress of a new US$900 billion (S$1.2 billion) relief package that includes another round of direct stimulus cheques, extra unemployment benefits and airline worker payment support.

But the spike in US Covid-19 infections in recent weeks undermined consumer confidence, which fell for the second straight month, while existing home sales fell for the first time in six months.

And investors also focused on Britain, where a fast-spreading new strain of Covid-19 has prompted some 40 countries to ban travel to Britain.

The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.7 per cent to finish at 30,015.51, while the broad-based S&P 500 slipped 0.2 per cent to 3,687.26.

However, the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index bucked the trend, gaining 0.5 per cent to end at 12,807.92, a new record.

“Worry over the impacts of the virus and the subsequent new restrictions are tamping down some of the early enthusiasm that came amid passage of a long-awaited fiscal relief and government spending package,” Schwab analysts said.

Apple jumped 2.8 per cent amid reports the tech company plans to launch its autonomous car in 2024.

Tesla lost 1.5 per cent, and airline stocks fell amid concerns over new travel restrictions, even as the carriers announced they would recall workers laid off during the pandemic.


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