Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Wall Street’s new year hangover sends Big Tech stocks lower -Dlight News

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Wall Street stocks have begun the year with a technology-led hangover after the rally that ended 2023 turned cautious, putting tech stocks on course for their worst day in more than two months.

The Nasdaq Composite was 2.1 per cent lower in afternoon trade. A fall of 1.5 per cent or more by the close of trading would give the tech bellwether its worst day since October 26.

The blue-chip S&P 500 was off 0.9 per cent, eyeing its worst day in almost a fortnight.

Chipmakers and Apple headlined the tech fallers dragging the Nasdaq and the S&P lower. The consumer tech giant lost as much as 4.3 per cent after Barclays analysts downgraded it to the equivalent of a “sell” rating — only the company’s second such rating from analysts in at least two years.

Line chart of Nasdaq Composite index showing Tech-heavy Nasdaq falls sharply after strong year-end rally

Tuesday’s declines followed a year in which stocks defied early gloom to roar higher, pushing the S&P up nearly 25 per cent for 2023 — its third- best performance in the past decade — to within sight of a record high. 

Market optimism surged anew last month after the Federal Reserve surprised investors by signalling an end to its interest rate rises and hinting at potential cuts to come.

The S&P’s 4.4 per cent rally in December took its rise from its October low to 15 per cent. The strength of those gains prompted Tuesday’s caution, participants said. 

“It’s natural that after such an amazing rally we see the market taking a bit of a breath and reassessing the odds of a perfect soft-landing scenario,” said Amélie Derambure, senior multi-asset portfolio manager at Amundi. “We can’t have it all. It’s unlikely that we’ll have at the same time a perfect soft landing and a perfect disinflation momentum.”

Some also cited Monday’s earthquake in Japan and Middle East tensions boosting oil prices as reasons for the sell-off, although not all agreed.

While such factors “haven’t helped concerning this morning’s market picture, they wouldn’t account for such a large decline”, said analysts at Bespoke. “The more likely culprit is simply a round of profit-taking after a monster rally to close out 2023.”

Investors are also expecting fresh US data this week, including the minutes from the Fed’s critical December meeting, due on Wednesday, and monthly employment figures on Friday.

All of the so-called Magnificent Seven giant tech stocks that powered markets higher last year were lower on Tuesday. Microsoft, Meta, Amazon, Alphabet, Tesla and Nvidia all joined Apple in negative territory. Tesla was the least affected after reporting better than expected quarterly deliveries, off just 0.7 per cent.

Advanced Micro Devices led the big Nasdaq decliners, down 6.5 per cent, with fellow chip-related stocks also suffering. Intel was 5.5 per cent lower while ASML dropped 5.6 per cent.

The sector’s potential problems selling to the Chinese market was highlighted by a Bloomberg report on Monday that US authorities had put pressure on ASML to halt exports to China weeks before planned US bans were to come into effect.

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