The Nasdaq surged to an all-time high on Monday as investors piled into technology stocks after fresh COVID-19 restrictions brought back the focus to the economic impact of the pandemic, while the blue-chip Dow fell after a four-day winning streak.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq advanced 0.4%, as several of its largest constituents, including Apple Inc, Facebook Inc and Tesla Inc, the so-called stay-at-home winners, gained between 1.4% and 4.7%.
Authorities in California, the most populous state in the country, on Monday compelled much of the state to close shop and stay at home the day after it reported a record 30,000-plus new coronavirus cases.
"I think what you are seeing today is a focus on the short term with the shutdown, which is why technology is leading the way," said Christopher Grisanti, chief equity strategist at MAI Capital Management in Ohio.
"These are companies that can do well even if the economy again goes into a shutdown. This is more reminiscent of early 2020, and I think it gives investors a chance to look ahead and try to find investments that will work in 2021."
The S&P 500 energy index fell over 1.6%, the most among the 11 major sectors as oil prices slipped. Oil companies Chevron Corp, Exxon Mobil Corp and Occidental Petroleum Corp fell between 1.0% and 2.5%.
Wall Street tracked a more cautious move in global stocks earlier in the day after Washington imposed financial sanctions and a travel ban on some Chinese officials over their alleged role in Beijing's disqualification last month of elected opposition legislators in Hong Kong.
But with President-elect Joe Biden due to take office on Jan. 20, analysts expect the focus to largely remain on his approach to relations with China, and less on measures adopted in the last few days of the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, investors are closely tracking developments on the passage of a long-awaited coronavirus relief bill, after months of deadlocked negotiations between Republicans and Democrats.
A new $908 billion package remained hung up on Monday due to differences over aid to state and local governments and business liability protections.
Promising vaccine updates from major drugmakers have raised investor hopes for an economic recovery next year and eased worries over a surge in U.S. infections, powering Wall Street's main indexes to record highs recently.
At 12:17 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 134.44 points, or 0.44%, at 30,083.82, the S&P 500 was down 5.86 points, or 0.16%, at 3,693.26.
Intel Corp fell 4.4% and was the top decliner on the S&P 500 after Bloomberg News reported Apple Inc was planning a series of new Mac processors for introduction as early as 2021 that are aimed at outperforming Intel's fastest processors.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.1-to-1 ratio on the NYSE, while advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P 500 posted 24 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 363 new highs and 12 new lows.