Dow plunges 900 points as election, coronavirus lockdown worries mount

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is pictured on August 31, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. equity markets were sharply lower Monday as investors weighed the possibility of more coronavirus shutdowns in Europe and uncertainty surrounding the U.S. election.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 900 points or 2.9% mid-morning as selling accelerated, while the S&P 500 slid 2.5% and the Nasdaq Composite lost 1.9%.

Mega-cap tech stocks that have dictated the market’s direction, remained under pressure, with the major averages on track for a fourth straight weekly decline as Apple and Amazon dropped.

With Election Day just over six weeks away, investors are gearing up for a tense battle between Democrats and Republicans over who will become the next Supreme Court justice following Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Friday. The debate will only heighten political tensions ahead of the election, and could possibly delay a new stimulus package.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly considering additional lockdowns to serve as a “circuit breaker” following a flare-up of new COVID-19 infections in the U.K. Other European countries are also said to be weighing new restrictions.

Looking at stocks, Nikola Corp. founder Trevor Milton stepped down as executive chairman, effective immediately, less than two weeks after short-seller Hindenburg Research called the electric-truck maker a fraud. Milton, who has denied the allegations, will be replaced by board member and former General Motors Co. vice chairman Stephen Girsky. Reports of his arrest were false.

TikTok owner ByteDance will hold an 80% stake in TikTok U.S. with Oracle Inc. and Walmart Inc. taking a minority stake after receiving approval from the Trump administration. The new company, called TikTok Global, will list on a U.S. stock exchange within 12 months.

As for Microsoft, which was cut out of the deal, it announced it will acquire privately-held ZeniMax, game publisher of popular titles including 'The Elder Scrolls and Fallout', for $7.5 billion in cash.

In other deals, gene-sequencing technology maker Illumina Inc. reached an $8 billion cash and stock deal to buy privately held cancer test developer Grail.

Elsewhere, big banks including Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group and JPMorgan Chase & CO. were lower after reports said the companies were among those that moved large amounts of allegedly illicit money for nearly two decades.

Meanwhile, Catalent Inc., Etsy Inc. and Teradyne Inc. began trading on the S&P 500 while H&R Block Inc., Coty Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. were removed from the index.

Looking at commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell $1.29 to $39.82 per barrel while gold slid $41.20 to $1,920.90 an ounce.

U.S. Treasurys rallied, pushing the yield on the 10-year note down by 4 basis points to 0.654%.

European markets were under pressure with Germany’s DAX weaker by 3.15%, Britain’s FTSE down 2.97%, and France’s CAC off 2.96%.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng plunged 2.06% and China’s Shanghai Composite lost 0.63% while Japan’s Nikkei was closed for holiday.

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