Nasdaq and S&P 500 end down after hitting record highs

The S&P 500 banks index rallied 2%, tracking a surge in Treasury yields as investors priced in policy tightening by the first half of 2022.
The S&P 500 banks index rallied 2%, tracking a surge in Treasury yields as investors priced in policy tightening by the first half of 2022.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - The S&P 500 ended lower and the Nasdaq tumbled deep into negative territory on Monday (Nov 22) after both earlier hit record highs following the announcement of a second term for Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended slightly higher.

Climbing Treasury yields kept tech stocks broadly lower, with holdouts including Microsoft and Apple, which many investors view as relatively safe, giving up gains late in the session.

Apple ended up 0.3 per cent, its highest closing level ever, after rising over 3 per cent earlier in the day. JPMorgan flagged possible improvements to the supply of the iPhone 13 in coming months. Microsoft ended down almost 1 per cent after earlier rising almost 2 per cent.

"The market is nervous. We know we have Powell, but that doesn't help with the inflation issue," said Bright Trading LLC trader Dennis Dick. "Under the hood, growth tech got hit all day, and then all of tech got hit at the end."

Mr Powell's nomination was welcomed by many investors hoping for no big changes in the Fed as it guides the economy through a recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The central bank is set to herald a return to pre-pandemic policy by end-next year. Fed Governor Lael Brainard, who was the other top candidate for the job, will be vice-chair, the White House said.

"Markets like predictability... While Brainard may have been a fine choice, the markets would not know what to expect from her even though the general consensus was that it meant lower rates for longer," said Mr Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

The S&P 500 banks index rallied 2 per cent, tracking a surge in Treasury yields as investors priced in policy tightening by the first half of next year.

Wells Fargo & Co rose more than 3 per cent and was among the strongest major Wall Street banks. Futures contracts tied to the Fed's policy rate indicated that money markets are now expecting the United States central bank to raise interest rates by 25 basis points by next June versus a previous estimate of July.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.05 per cent to end at 35,619.25 points, while the S&P 500 lost 0.32 per cent to 4,682.94. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.26 per cent to 15,854.76. The S&P 500 value index climbed 0.6 per cent, strongly outperforming the S&P 500 growth index's 1 per cent dip.

In extended trade, Zoom Video Communications jumped 6 per cent after the video-conferencing company posted quarterly revenue that beat expectations. Investors were awaiting a slew of economic data this week, including IHS business activity readings, personal consumption expenditure and minutes of the Fed's latest meeting.

In Monday's session, Amazon fell 2.8 per cent and Alphabet declined 1.8 per cent, both weighing heavily on the Nasdaq. Tesla gained 1.7 per cent after chief executive Elon Musk tweeted that the Model S Plaid will "probably" be coming to China around March. The stock has almost recovered from a steep sell-off earlier this month that started after Mr Musk polled Twitter users about whether he should sell some of his shares in the electric carmaker.

Activision Blizzard slipped 0.3 per cent after a media report that the video game publisher's CEO Bobby Kotick would consider leaving if he could not quickly address concerns about company culture.

The S&P 500 has now gained about 25 per cent this year, while the Nasdaq is up 23 per cent. Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.28-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.76-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 52 new 52-week highs and 11 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 138 new highs and 507 new lows.

Volume on US exchanges was 11.6 billion shares, compared with the 11.1 billion average for the full session over the past 20 trading days.