Wall Street Lower on Pandemic, Afghanistan

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks fell in early trading Monday, amid worries about rising coronavirus infections in the U.S. and around the globe, as well as geopolitical concerns out of Asia.

The S&P 500 index fell 0.5% as of 10:05 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.7% and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.8%. The Russell 2000 index of small company stocks was down 1.2%.

Shares of Tesla fell more than 3% after the U.S. government announced a formal investigation into the company's automated driving features, following a series of collisions with parked vehicles.

Data out of China showed the global coronavirus pandemic continues to hurt economies around the world. Chinese industrial production and retail sales both rose last month, but at a far weaker pace than what economists had expected.

China's economy is suffering from supply chain issues, where manufactured goods that would typically be on their way to foreign markets have either remained unfinished or stuck in shipping containers. The pandemic has made hiring workers harder as well.

The collapse of the Afghanistan government over the weekend was also on investors' minds. While the economy of Afghanistan is small, the country is located in a delicate part of the world, sandwiched between the economic giants of South and East Asia and the oil-rich Middle East.

Oil prices were down 4% in early trading. Chinese and Indian stocks were marginally higher overnight.

Also dampening investors' optimism was the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index from Friday, which fell to 70.2 from its previous level of 81.2 in July. That was the largest drop in sentiment since April 2020, when the pandemic took its initial grip on the country.

The unexpectedly bad reading was almost entirely due to the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus, which has caused hospitals to fill up with unvaccinated patients across the U.S.