Futures wobble as U.S. coronavirus cases top three million

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures ticked lower in choppy trading on Wednesday as investors stayed on the sidelines in the face of an alarming rise in coronavirus caseloads across the country that poses a risk to a recovery in business activity.

The Nasdaq notched an intraday record high on Tuesday but all the three main stock indexes finished lower as investors booked profits following a strong run after a batch of upbeat data strengthened the case for a bounce back in economy.

The number of confirmed U.S. cases surpassed 3 million on Tuesday, affecting nearly one of every 100 Americans. California, Hawaii, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma and Texas shattered their previous daily record highs for new infections.

The surge, which has forced authorities to scale back on reopening plans in parts of the country, is only expected to delay economic recovery, according to market experts, while their longer-term expectations of growth remain intact.

At 6:05 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were down 64 points, or 0.25%. S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were down 4.5 points, or 0.14% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were up 1 points, or 0.01%.

Among early movers, Allstate Corp (ALL.N) slipped 0.4% as the U.S. insurer said it would buy National General Holdings Corp (NGHC.O) for about $4 billion in cash, scaling up its auto insurance business at a time when the coronavirus has crushed traffic on roads and reduced claims.

Levi Strauss & Co (LEVI.N) fell 5.2% although in light volume as the denim apparel maker cautioned its business would be hit in the second half of the year, even as its sales have been improving at its reopened stores.

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