Muddled open for Wall Street as Covid vaccine nears

US stocks lost steam in early trading Wednesday ahead of the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines and as Congress and the White House continue negotiating over new aid package.

About 50 minutes after the open, the broad-based S&P 500 was flat at 3,702.37, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.3 percent at 12,552.63. Both had finished at record highs on Tuesday.

The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.1 percent to 30,195.06.

Sentiment among traders has generally been positive this week as they await the roll-out of a vaccine from Pfizer to counter Covid-19.

Also raising spirits are continued efforts in Washington to find agreement on a new relief bill to help revive the economy after the mass layoffs and sharp contraction in growth caused by Covid-19.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday unveiled a new $916 billion spending proposal, however the prospects it will win over Democrats controling the House of Representatives and Republicans leading the Senate are unclear.

Among companies, FireEye was down 11.9 percent after the hacker-fighting firm announced Tuesday its owns defenses had been breached by sophisticated attackers who made off tools with used to test customers’ computer systems.

Fast food giant McDonald’s was down 0.2 percent after Fox Business Network reported the chain may end a long-running subsidy to franchisees for its Happy Meals, potentially leading to price increases beginning next year. (AFP)