Persistent weakness in technology stocks kept the major indexes under pressure on Monday after last week’s hotter-than-expected inflation readings sparked a downturn in equity markets.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 120 points, or 0.4%, as Home Depot and Boeing weighed on the blue-chip index. The S&P 500 lost 0.5% as the tech sector pulled back more than 1%. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.9%.
Big Tech quickly came under pressure to start the week, with Apple and Facebook each down 0.8%, Netflix down 1% and Google-parent Alphabet shedding 0.6%. Traders have punished the technology sector in recent weeks amid a broader shift out of growth stocks and into cyclical, reopening trades in energy, financials and materials.
Communication services stocks Discovery and AT&T bucked that trend, both up on news of a merger agreement. AT&T announced Monday that it is in advanced talks to merge WarnerMedia, which includes HBO, with Discovery. The new entity will trade as its own public company.
Discovery’s Class c stock rose 17.3%, while AT&T added about 4%.
Wall Street came off one of the wildest weeks of 2021 that saw the S&P 500 fall 4% through midweek amid heightened inflation fears. The broad equity benchmark eventually rebounded and ended the week down just 1.4%.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite, which got hit particularly hard by inflation fears, dropped 2.3% last week. The blue-chip Dow fell 1.1% in that period. All three benchmarks posted their worst week since February 26.
“Not only are [last] week’s events a warning sign of how uncomfortable inflation prints can become but also a warning sign of how overbought equity markets have become,” Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, a managing director at JPMorgan, said in a note.
Data last week showed the Consumer Price Index jumped 4.2% from a year earlier in April, the fastest rate since 2008, which intensified fears that the Federal Reserve could be forced to start tapering its easy monetary policy if higher price pressures are sustained.
The Fed’s minutes from its last meeting, which will be released Wednesday, could offer some clues on policymakers’ thinking on inflation.
Bitcoin was taken for a wild ride overnight Sunday. Earlier, the price tumbled below $43,000 after Elon Musk implied in a Twitter exchange that Tesla may have dumped its bitcoin holdings. Last week, Tesla said it would no longer accept bitcoin for car purchases due to environmental concerns.
Bitcoin then rebounded some after Musk later clarified in a tweet that the electric vehicle maker “has not sold any Bitcoin.” The price was last at $45,505. Tesla stock lost 1.5%.
Elsewhere, the first-quarter earnings season is wrapping up with more than 90% of the S&P 500 companies having reported their results. So far, 86% of S&P 500 companies have reported a positive EPS surprise, which would mark the highest percentage of positive earnings surprises since 2008 when FactSet began tracking this metric.
Walmart, Home Depot and Macy’s will deliver earnings on Tuesday.
“Investor and equity analyst reactions to earnings results reveal skepticism that 1Q beats provide a reason for additional forward-looking optimism,” wrote David Kostin, Goldman Sachs’ chief U.S. equity strategist. “Firms that beat EPS estimates typically outperform the S&P 500 by 100 [basis points] the day after reporting. However, the typical stock that beat on EPS this quarter outperformed by just 51 [basis points], continuing the trend from 2020.”
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