The Nasdaq index has extended a rally to hit a record high as investors piled into big technology stocks on worries over the short-term hit to the economy from COVID-19 restrictions while energy shares tumbled on lower oil prices.

Shares in companies including Apple Inc, Tesla Inc, Facebook Inc and Microsoft Corp boosted the Nasdaq with gains of nearly 2.0 per cent each.

Authorities in California, the most populous state in the country, on Monday compelled much of the state to close shop and stay at home the day after it reported a record 30,000-plus new coronavirus cases.

“I think what you are seeing today is a focus on the short term with the shutdown, which is why technology is leading the way,” said Christopher Grisanti, chief equity strategist at MAI Capital Management in Ohio.

“These are companies that can do well even if the economy again goes into a shutdown. This is more reminiscent of early 2020, and I think it gives investors a chance to look ahead and try to find investments that will work in 2021.”

The S&P 500 energy index fell more than 2.0 per cent, the most among the 11 major sectors as oil prices slipped.

Oil companies Chevron Corp, Exxon Mobil Corp and Occidental Petroleum Corp fell between 2.0 per cent and 3.0 per cent in early trading.

Wall Street tracked a more cautious move in global stocks earlier in the day after Reuters reported the US was preparing to impose sanctions on some Chinese officials over their alleged role in the disqualification of elected opposition legislators in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, talks aimed at delivering fresh coronavirus aid gathered momentum in the US Congress on Friday as a bipartisan group of lawmakers worked to put the finishing touches on a new $US908 billion ($A1.2 trillion) bill.

Analysts remain confident of the passage of the bill by a December 11 deadline, with Thomas Hayes, managing member at Great Hill Capital in New York saying, “I think the bill is going to pass, but it will be smaller than $US908 billion”.

Promising vaccine updates from major drug makers have raised investor hopes for an economic recovery next year and eased worries over a surge in US infections, powering Wall Street’s main indexes to record highs recently.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened at an all-time high on Monday, before turning negative moments later.

In early trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 145.34 points, or 0.48 per cent, at 30,072.92, the S&P 500 was down 2.86 points, or 0.08 per cent, at 3,696.26, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 57.98 points, or 0.47 per cent, at 12,522.22.

Intel Corp fell 3.7 per cent after Bloomberg News reported Apple Inc was planning a series of new Mac processors for introduction as early as 2021 that are aimed at outperforming Intel’s fastest processors.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.35-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.16-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 21 new 52-week highs and no new low while the Nasdaq recorded 174 new highs and six new lows.