Dow ends ugly session 2% lower; GameStop surges

A protester holds a sign during a demonstration outside the New York Stock Exchange decrying Robinhood's decision to impose trading limits on GameStop and other stocks on Jan 28, 2021. PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks concluded a bad week with another volatile session on Friday (Jan 29) as the buying frenzy over GameStop and some other equities resumed amid stepped-up scrutiny from regulators.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 2 per cent at 29,982.62.

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 1.9 per cent to 3,714.24, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 2 per cent to 13,070.69.

Analysts said there were factors besides the drama around GameStop in the pullback on Friday and earlier in the week.

These include concerns over lofty equity valuations given the economic weakness caused by Covid-19. Investors are also worried US fiscal stimulus may lag market expectations after President Joe Biden's US$1.9 trillion (S$2.5 trillion) package garnered a sceptical reception in Congress.

But much of the focus landed on questions over GameStop, which soared nearly 70 per cent after Robinhood and other trading platforms lifted restrictions on trading the equities.

Shares of GameStop, AMC Entertainment and others have been on a tear much of the week as investors organized over Reddit targeted the equities to combat hedge fund short-sellers who were betting on lower prices.

"This is all a de-risking event by hedge funds, because of the loss that they have taken from the stocks like GameStop," said Karl Haeling of LBBW.

"These hedge funds are facing billions of dollars of losses and they had to go and sell stocks where they had profits and long positions. They have to sell them off to cover their losses."

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Among other companies, Johnson & Johnson fell 3.6 per cent after announcing its Covid-19 vaccine has an overall efficacy of 66 per cent, with 85 per cent effectiveness in preventing severe Covid-19 across all geographical regions, but only 57 per cent success rate in combating a variant discovered in South Africa.

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The J&J vaccine has been eagerly anticipated because it requires only one shot, in contrast to other options now on the market.

Chevron fell 4.3 per cent after reporting a US$665 million fourth-quarter loss, taking its annual loss to US$5.5 billion amid a big drop in oil prices.

Wall Street stocks concluded a bad week with another volatile session on Friday (Jan 29) as the buying frenzy over GameStop and some other equities resumed amid stepped-up scrutiny from regulators.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 2 per cent at 29,982.62.

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 1.9 per cent to 3,714.24, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 2 per cent to 13,070.69.

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