S&P 500, Nasdaq Fall As High-Flying Tech Stocks Slide

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Wall Street’s major indexes dropped on Wednesday, weighed down by technology stocks as investors unwound positions in high-flying shares and pivoted to sectors that are likely to benefit from an economic reopening on hopes of swift vaccinations.

Microsoft Corp, Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc dropped 0.9% and 1.3%, weighing the most on the S&P 500. Financials and energy jumped over 1%, while industrials also edged up. The remaining eight S&P sectors declined.

The Russell 1000 value index, which is heavily weighted toward cyclical sectors, rose 0.4%, while its growth index, comprising large tech companies, fell 0.8%.

Data showed U.S. private employers hired fewer workers than expected in February, suggesting the labor market was struggling to regain speed despite the nation’s improving public health picture.

A more comprehensive monthly jobs report is due on Friday.

The report “is a reminder that we’re still battling the effects of the pandemic,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E*TRADE Financial.

“In the backdrop we have the promise of a widely vaccinated population in pretty short order, stimulus relief making moves in Congress, and the Fed’s ultra-accommodative stance.”

The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield ticked up to 1.48%, pressuring areas of the market with high valuations. It was still off last week’s peak of above 1.61%.

Earlier, S&P futures had risen as much as 0.8% as President Joe Biden said that the United States will have enough COVID-19 vaccine for every American adult by the end of May.

Texas also sweepingly rolled back coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday, lifting a mask mandate and saying most businesses may open at full capacity next week as many U.S. states record a sharp decline in new infections and hospitalization.

The U.S. Senate is expected to take up Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Wednesday, with Democrats aiming to get it signed into law before March 14, when some current jobless benefits expire.

At 10:07 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 26.45 points, or 0.08%, to 31,365.07, the S&P 500 lost 22.69 points, or 0.59%, to 3,847.60 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 152.25 points, or 1.14%, to 13,206.54.

Exxon Mobil Corp, ahead of a closely watched investor meeting, rose 0.4% after the company said it would grow its dividend and cut debt through 2025.

Shares in mortgage lender UWM Holdings Corp jumped about 9% as the new targets of a short-squeeze gain popularity on internet message boards.

Another report showed U.S. services industry activity unexpectedly slowed in February amid winter storms while a measure of prices paid by companies for inputs surged to the highest level in nearly 12-1/2 years.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 1.3-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.5-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P 500 posted 23 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 112 new highs and 47 new lows.

-Reuters

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