US Stocks Turn Lower Near Midday

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks turned lower in late-morning trading on Monday, as investors looked ahead to this week's deluge of company earnings and remained concerned about the economic damage from a rise in coronavirus cases in some countries.

The S&P 500 was down 0.6% as of 11:15 a.m. Eastern after being up 0.4% earlier. The Nasdaq composite was down 0.4% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 335 points, mostly due to financial companies like Goldman Sachs and American Express.

Several big companies will report their results this week, including technology titan Apple. The iPhone maker will report its results on Wednesday after the closing bell. Others reporting this week include American Express, Johnson & Johnson, 3M and AT&T.

Investors are weighing evidence of the economic damage of current coronavirus restrictions against hopes that once the pandemic comes under some control, economies will bounce back.

"Vaccine breakthroughs make it likely that life will become more functional again at some point in 2021, resulting in higher GDP growth and more robust corporate earnings," Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at Axi, said in a report.

However, increasing global infections and new variants of the virus, along with "tightening social distancing restrictions and delays in vaccine rollouts in some places, all increase the near-term growth risks," he said.

Markets have been mostly rallying recently on hopes that COVID-19 vaccines will lead to a powerful economic recovery later this year as daily life gets closer to normal. Hopes are also high that Washington will deliver another dose of stimulus for the economy now that the White House and both houses of Congress are under single control of the Democrats.

President Joe Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion plan to send $1,400 to most Americans and deliver other support for the economy. But his party holds only the slimmest possible majority in the Senate, raising doubts about how much can be approved. Several Republicans have already voiced opposition to parts of the plan.

The coronavirus pandemic is also worsening and doing more damage to the economy by the day. A UN agency said Monday that four times as many jobs were lost last year as in 2009, during the global financial crisis.

GameStop, the video-game retailer that's struggling to return to profitability, surged another 113% as an army of smaller-pocketed, optimistic investors bear down on big institutional investors who think the stock has to fall. The stock continues to be halted for its sudden surges.

GameStop's stock neared $160 in the morning, after sitting below $18 just a few weeks ago. It took off earlier this month after naming three new directors to its board to help speed its turnaround, including the founder of online pet-supply retailer Chewy. Some high-profile investors have been saying its stock price was too high and placed bets to profit from an eventual drop by "shorting" it, or borrowing shares of GameStop and selling them.

But a cavalcade of smaller investors has been exhorting each other on the internet to keep the momentum rolling higher for the stock. That's pushing short sellers to get out of their bets, done by buying the stock, which is helping accelerate its momentum to the moon.

All the while, GameStop's stock keeps rising even though it lost nearly $296 million in the nine months through Oct. 31.