Stocks lower at the open as Treasury, Fed spar over financial market backstops

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U.S. stocks opened modestly lower as market participants focused on the likely expiration of several federal emergency loan programs established at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 80 points, 0.3%, to open near 29,400, while the S&P 500 lost 3 points, 0.1%, to open near 3,578. The Nasdaq Composite index slipped 6 points, and was trading near 11,899. On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he wouldn’t approve extensions of the loan programs, a step that the Federal Reserve criticized. That move may add to the strain on the economy as pandemic unemployment insurance benefits are set to expire, and as Congress continues to make no progress toward any additional relief. Shares of Pfizer Inc. were higher after the bell after the drugmaker asked the FDA for emergency authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine.
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