Wall Street began the year with a tumble on Monday, with the S&P 500 on track for its steepest decline in more than two months as it retreated from record territory.
The index was more than 2 percent lower by midday, with stocks that have been most sensitive to investor sentiment about the coronavirus pandemic leading the decline. Shares of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Wynn Resorts, Marriott International and Carnival, were all more than 5 percent lower.
Monday’s retreat comes after the S&P 500 rallied more than 16 percent in 2020, defying the economic crisis and the human catastrophe of the pandemic, as the Federal Reserve stepped in to support financial markets, Congress spent trillions on unemployment and business support programs, and vaccinations began, showing a sustainable way out of the pandemic.
But investors have always had to contend with the still-spreading coronavirus pandemic, the risk of new lockdowns and political turmoil in the United States. Countries from Japan to Britain are contemplating more restrictions that will weigh on economic growth, and on Tuesday, two runoff Senate elections in Georgia will settle control of the upper house of Congress, and finally determine how hard it will be for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to move forward on his agenda.
Though major benchmarks in Europe held on to their gains, they were also off their highest points of the day. The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose more than half a percent, and the FTSE 100 index in Britain gained 1.7 percent.
The U.S. oil benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, fell nearly 2 percent, to about $47.50. Officials from major oil-producing countries were set to meet Monday to decide whether to increase output in February despite demand continuing to be depressed by the pandemic.
Haven, the joint venture of Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase that was formed three years ago to explore new ways to deliver health care to the companies’ employees, is disbanding, according to a statement posted on its website. It will cease its operations at the end of February.
“The Haven team made good progress exploring a wide range of health care solutions, as well as piloting new ways to make primary care easier to access, insurance benefits simpler to understand and easier to use, and prescription drugs more affordable,” Brooke Thurston, Haven’s spokeswoman, said in a statement.
Haven aimed to improve how people gain access to health care by pulling together the know-how and scale of three of the largest employers in America. Its formation sent shock waves through the markets, driving health insurers’ stocks lower as investors wagered that the power of the three behemoths combined would completely upend the country’s health care delivery system by testing new ideas on more than a million employees.
In a note to employees on Monday announcing Haven’s end, Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, said the three companies would…