Home BUSINESS Nasdaq falls as big tech slides; Fed minutes in focus

Nasdaq falls as big tech slides; Fed minutes in focus

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February 17, 2021

By Devik Jain and Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – The Nasdaq fell on Wednesday led by a slide in shares of technology-related companies as investors rotated out of growth stocks, while awaiting the release of minutes from the U.S Federal Reserve’s January meeting later in the day.

Shares in Apple Inc, Tesla Inc and PayPal Holdings Inc fell between 2.2% and 3.8%, weighing the most on the tech-heavy index.

Six of the 11 major S&P sectors fell, with the technology index leading losses with a 1.6% drop.

The sector, which has been at the heart of a record-setting rally in the equities market, houses many stocks with high earnings multiples that analysts say may come under pressure with rising yields.

Defensive sectors including real estate and consumer staples edged higher.

Rising inflation expectations pushed benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields to their highest in a year on Wednesday, before easing.

“Investors are just refocusing their attention back on to inflationary worries and perhaps the valuation aspect of the market, especially as it relates to the more technologically related companies,” said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth Management in New York.

The Fed has pledged to pin interest rates near zero until inflation rises to 2% and looks set to exceed that goal.

That stance, coupled with the Biden administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion spending bill for pandemic relief, has some analysts warning of a coming surge in inflation.

Data showed U.S. retail sales rebounded sharply in January after households received additional pandemic relief money from the government, suggesting a pick-up in economic activity after being restrained by a fresh wave of COVID-19 infections late last year.

At 12:01 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 19.32 points, or 0.06%, at 31,503.43, the S&P 500 was down 18.90 points, or 0.48%, at 3,913.69 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 185.97 points, or 1.32%, at 13,861.53.

Shares in Dow components Verizon Communications Inc and Chevron Corp rose 4.3% and 1.8%, respectively, after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc disclosed major investments in the companies on Tuesday.

Wells Fargo & Co jumped 5.5% after a report said the lender won Fed acceptance for overhauling risk management and governance tied to regulatory asset cap.

Shopify Inc slid 5.3% after the Canadian e-commerce giant hinted at slower revenue growth in 2021 as vaccine rollouts encourage people to return to stores after a year marked by COVID-19-led online shopping upsurge.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.10-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.38-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 19 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 132 new highs and 10 new lows.

(Reporting by Devik Jain and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Shounak Dasgupta)