Wall Street retreats on rising COVID-19 cases

Stocks on Wall Street fell at the open Thursday but then pared their losses.

Utilities, financials and materials stocks led the decline, but tech stocks turned around, lifting the Nasdaq.

Rising fears of stalling economic growth weighed on investor sentiment amid soaring cases of COVID-19 and an unexpected rise in weekly jobless claims. The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus surpassed a grim new milestone of 250,000 on Wednesday. And on Thursday, the Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims rose last week to 742,000.

Summit Place Financial Advisors president Liz Miller says prices on some growth stocks have gotten too high.

"We certainly could see some year end additional pullback. I would not be surprised to see 10% kind of pullbacks, but I don’t think that is at all a signal that it’s time to leave these investments behind."

Shares of Macy's dropped in early trading. The department store operator's quarterly comparable sales plunged by more than a fifth, and it warned that sales would continue to decline into the fall. That signals a tough holiday shopping season ahead.

Nvidia shares dropped. Company executives said sales of data center chips would fall slightly in the fourth quarter.