US Stocks Open Higher Friday

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks were moderately higher in Friday morning trading, recovering some of the declines markets posted the day before as investors became increasingly worried about rising coronavirus infections and their impact on the U.S. and global economy.

The S&P 500 rose 0.8% as of 9:50 a.m. Eastern, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite posting similar gains. The market was lifted by the same stocks that have dominated this year's gains: big technology companies such as Cisco Systems, Amazon and Microsoft.

The S&P 500 is on pace for a weekly gain of 1.6%.

Reports of surging COVID-19 cases have had a sobering effect on markets that had advanced on hopes for a vaccine and expectations that pro-business policies will continue after last week's U.S. elections. Earlier in the week, markets had rocketed higher in response to news that a vaccine could be coming shortly. But even if a vaccine is finalized soon, it will take months for it to be distributed throughout the U.S. and around the globe.

Coronavirus caseloads are rising at a faster pace in the U.S. in almost every state. In New York, the state is ordering restaurants, bars and gyms to close at 10 p.m., beginning Friday. New York was devastated by the virus earlier this year but seemed to have gotten it largely under control. In Europe, several governments have brought back even tougher restrictions that will likely restrain the economy.

"It feels a bit deflated today," Stephen Innes of Axi wrote in a report. A vaccine "cannot get here quick enough as what should be a festive time of the year looks bound to be weeks of holiday gloom."

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 sank 0.5% to finish at 25,385.87. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2% to 6,405.20. South Korea's Kospi reversed course to add 0.7% at 2,493.87. Hong Kong's Hang Seng inched down less than 0.1% to 26,156.86, while the Shanghai Composite dipped 0.9% to 3,310.10.

In Japan, where the pandemic had seemed relatively under control at fewer than 2,000 cumulative deaths, the number of reported daily cases nationwide reached a record for the country on Thursday, at more than 1,660 people. Especially affected were Tokyo and the northern island of Hokkaido, raising worries that a recent government campaign to discount domestic travel might have helped spread infections.

Outbreaks in many parts of the world have doused optimism over promising results for a potential vaccine that had investors envisioning a possible return to normal. Such hopes have been tempered by a recognition that hurdles remain before the vaccine can become widely available, with medical workers and those with health risks likely getting access to such protection first.

Pessimism over scant chances the Democrats and Republicans will manage to reach agreement on further economic stimulus before the end of the year is another factor pulling shares lower, said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, market strategist at Mizuho Securities.