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  • Wall Street’s main indexes started the new week on the back foot.
  • Renewed coronavirus fears overshadow stimulus bill deal on Monday.
  • Energy stocks are suffering heavy losses amid plunging crude oil prices.

As signalled by the poor performance of futures indexes, major equity indices in the US opened deep in the red on Monday amid an intense flight to safety. As of writing, the S&P 500 was down 1.05% on the day at 3,671, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was losing 0.6% at 30,000 and the Nasdaq Composite was falling 1.1% at 12,596.

A new strain of coronavirus detected in the UK is reportedly 70% more transmissible than COVID-19 and major economies announced border shutdowns and travel restrictions on Monday.

Reflecting the risk-averse market environment, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), Wall Street’s fear gauge, is at its highest level since early November at 26.73, up nearly 24% on a daily basis.

On a positive note, the US lawmakers finally reached an agreement on the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill over the weekend but this development seems to be failing to improve the market mood for the time being.

Among the 11 major S&P 500 sectors, the Energy Index is down more than 2% pressured by a more-than-3% decline seen in crude oil prices. On the other hand, the Financial Index is the only major sector trading in the positive territory after the opening bell.

S&P 500 chart (daily)