U.S. stocks open mostly higher ahead of a busy earnings week

NEW YORK — Stocks were modestly higher in early trading today, as investors looked ahead to this week’s deluge of company earnings and set aside concerns about the economic damage from a rise in coronavirus cases in some countries.

The S&P 500 was up 0.3% as of 9:15 a.m. Central. The Nasdaq composite was up 1.2% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 125 points, mostly due to financial companies like Goldman Sachs and American Express.

Several big companies will report their results this week, including technology titan Apple. The iPhone maker will report its results on Wednesday after the closing bell. Others reporting this week include American Express, Johnson & Johnson, 3M and AT&T.

Investors are weighing evidence of the economic damage of current coronavirus restrictions against hopes that once the pandemic comes under some control, economies will bounce back.

“Vaccine breakthroughs make it likely that life will become more functional again at some point in 2021, resulting in higher GDP growth and more robust corporate earnings,” Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at Axi, said in a report.

However, increasing global infections and new variants of the virus, along with “tightening social distancing restrictions and delays in vaccine rollouts in some places, all increase the near-term growth risks,” he said.

Markets have been mostly rallying recently on hopes that COVID-19 vaccines will lead to a powerful economic recovery later this year as daily life gets closer to normal. Hopes are also high that Washington will deliver another dose of stimulus for the economy now that the White House and both houses of Congress are under single control of the Democrats.

President Joe Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion plan to send $1,400 to most Americans and deliver other support for the economy. But his party holds only the slimmest possible majority in the Senate, raising doubts about how much can be approved. Several Republicans have already voiced opposition to parts of the plan.

The coronavirus pandemic is also worsening and doing more damage to the economy by the day.

A UN agency said Monday that four times as many jobs were lost last year as in 2009, during the global financial crisis.