wall street new york stock exchange, the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies. august 8, 2010 in manhattan, new york city.a
© Songquan Deng / 123RF Stock Photo

Stocks were mostly falling in early trading on Wall Street Tuesday as CEOs of the country’s biggest banks paint a mixed picture of how badly the coronavirus pandemic is ripping through their businesses.

The S&P 500 was 0.5% lower after the first 40 minutes of trading, reversing an earlier gain of 0.2%. It follows up on Monday’s turbulent day where stocks veered from a healthy gain to a loss after California brought back restrictions on its economy amid a jump in coronavirus counts. Stocks overseas mostly fell, while Treasury yields dipped in another sign of pessimism about the economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 68 points, or 0.3% at 26,154, as of 10:10 a.m. Eastern time, after earlier being down 90 points. The Nasdaq composite was 1.5% lower.

Financial stocks in the S&P 500 were down 0.1% after three of the industry’s biggest players said they had to set aside nearly $27 billion to cover loans potentially going bad due to the recession.

But investors took very different approaches to each of them. JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s biggest bank, rose 0.8% as it reported making a record amount of revenue from April through June. Its profit for the latest quarter also managed to beat analysts’ expectations, even though it roughly halved from year-ago levels.

Wells Fargo, though, dropped 6.7% after it cut its dividend and CEO Charlie Scharf said, “Our view of the length and severity of the economic downturn has deteriorated considerably.”

Citigroup fell 1.6% after its CEO said its overall business performance was strong last quarter, though net income dropped 73% from a year ago largely due to the $7.9 billion it had to set aside for loans potentially going bad.

Delta Air Lines lost 2% after its earnings and revenue for the latest quarter fell short of Wall Street’s already very low expectations. The pandemic is keeping fliers on the ground, and Delta’s passenger count plunged 93% during the quarter from a year earlier. CEO Ed Bastian said it could be two years before the airline sees a sustainable recovery.

Stocks have mostly churned in place since early June. The S&P 500 erased most of a nearly 34% plunge to pull back within 4.5% of the record high it set in February.

Pulling stocks higher has been a budding economic recovery, with the job market, retail sales and other measures of the economy halting their breathtaking plunge and beginning to resume growth. Underlying it all is massive aid for the economy from central banks and governments around the world.

But pushing stocks down is the threat of rising coronavirus counts in hot spots around the world. California demonstrated on Monday how dangerous that can be when the governor of the country’s largest state economy by far once again ordered bars, indoor dining and other businesses closed.

The worry is that the continuing pandemic could push states across the Sun Belt to roll back reopenings of their economies.

In Europe, France’s CAC 40 fell1.7%, and Germany’s DAX lost 1.5%. The FTSE 100 in London slipped 0.5%.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.9%, South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.1% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.1%.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 0.60% from 0.62% late Monday. It tends to move with investors’ expectations of the economy and inflation.