U.S. stocks closed lower Tuesday, after a five day rally to record highs for the main indexes, ahead of quarterly results from some of the most prominent names in the technology sector and as a Chinese regulatory crackdown dampened the investing mood on Wall Street
The developments in Asia come as investors are also waiting for economic reports this week, including second quarter GDP, and a policy update from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday.
How did stock benchmarks trade?
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average
fell 85.79 points, or 0.2%, to 35,058.52.
- The S&P 500
declined 20.84 points, or 0.5%, to 4,401.46.
- The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite
dropped 180.14 points, or 1.2%, to 14,660.58, its largest one day fall since May 12.
On Monday, major benchmarks closed at record highs for a second straight session. The Dow and the S&P 500 each rose 0.2%, and the Nasdaq Composite inched higher to also set a fresh record. All three indexes rose for a fifth straight day.
What drove the market?
Stocks slumped, led by technology stocks, as investors worried about a selloff in Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, which has put pressure on risk assets around the globe.
“How many straws does it take to break a camel’s back?” said Arnim Holzer, macro and correlation defense strategist with EAB Investment Group, in a phone interview Tuesday. “What we’re seeing now is a market where there are a lot of straws.”
Concerns weighing on the stock market include China’s crackdown on technology companies and worries that the delta variant of the coronavirus will hurt global growth, according to Holzer. Companies in the S&P 500 index have a significant portion of earnings outside the U.S., he said.
The Hang Seng HK:HSI ended 4.2% lower in Asian trade, marking its second consecutive drop of more than 4%, amid China’s regulatory crackdown on technology stocks.
shares dived after China published rules requiring online food platforms to pay minimum wage, but the selling was broad-based, with technology giants Tencent
each seeing sharp declines.
Still, analysts noted that U.S. stocks were trading near all-time highs and argued that considerations closer to home were likely to call the tune for markets beyond any immediate reaction to the China developments.
The “two big factors” over the course of the next week remain “earnings reports and what we hear from the Federal Reserve,” said Bill Northey, senior investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, in an interview, adding that “this is against a backdrop of a very strong economic recovery” that was underscored by a strong July consumer-confidence reading Tuesday morning.
The Conference Board’s closely followed index of consumer confidence edged up to 129.1 this month from a revised 128.9 in June, hitting a 16-month high.
“The consumer is the backbone of the economy,” said Michael Reynolds, vice president of investment strategy at Glenmede, in a phone interview Tuesday. While economic and corporate earnings growth may have peaked, slower but “more sustainable” growth following the sharp rebound in the pandemic can continue to “reward” stocks, according to Reynolds.
As for Tuesday’s decline in equities, “the market is just catching its breath after a couple days of really ripping higher,” he said.
But some investors do fear that the selling in Asia may dim the shine of a strong U.S. corporate earnings reporting season thus far.
“This crackdown on private businesses from China is significantly denting market sentiment despite a better-than-expected earnings season so far,” said Pierre Veyret, technical analyst at ActivTrades.
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve began its two-day policy meeting. Policy makers led by Chairman Jerome Powell are expected to have a lengthy discussion this week about eventually slowing down their monthly bond purchases, but Fed watchers said the meeting is unlikely to produce answers to questions about the likely start or pace of any tapering effort.
In other U.S. economic data, orders for durable goods rose 0.8% in June, well below the 2% rise expected by economists. May orders, however, were revised to show a 3.2% rise versus an initial estimate of 2.3%.
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed a 16.6% year-over-year rise in May, up from the previous record of 14.8% set last month. The separate 20-city index, which gauges home prices across a group of major cities across the country, increased over the past year by 17% in May, up from 15% in the prior month.
After the close Tuesday, U.S. tech giants Alphabet GOOG, Apple AAPL and Microsoft MSFT reported quarterly results. Analysts said positioning ahead of tech earnings could also help account for the underperformance of the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite relative to other major indexes Tuesday. So far, 88% of S&P 500 companies have reported a positive EPS surprise, according to FactSet
Which companies were in focus?
- Tesla Inc. TSLA shares fell about 2% after the electric vehicle maker late Monday reported a surprisingly strong profit.
- 3M Co. MMM said Tuesday it had net income of $1.524 billion, or $2.59 a share, in the second quarter, up from $1.306 billion, or $2.25 a share, in the year-earlier period. Shares fell 0.6%.
- Shares of General Electric Co.
rose about 1.2%, after the industrial conglomerate reported second-quarter profit and revenue that beat expectations, and surprisingly generated positive free cash flow.
- Corning Inc.
shares fell 1.3% after the maker of optical technologies posted better-than-expected revenue and earnings for its second quarter.
- Centene Corp.
posted better-than-expected adjusted second-quarter profit Tuesday and offered guidance that was above consensus. Shares fell 3%.
- Shares of United Parcel Service Inc. UPS dropped 7% after the package delivery giant reported second-quarter profit and revenue that beat expectations, even as the U.S. domestic business came up short of revenue forecasts.
- JetBlue Airways Corp.
reported Tuesday a narrower-than-expected second-quarter loss and revenue that rose seven-fold from a year ago to beat forecasts as the air carrier saw further month-on-month improvement in travel. Shares dropped 6.9%.
What did other markets do?
- The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
fell 4.1 basis points to settle at 1.235%. Yields and debt prices move in opposite directions.
- The ICE U.S. Dollar Index
a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was down 0.2%.
- Oil futures lost ground, with the U.S. benchmark
ending 0.4% lower Tuesday at $71.65 a barrel, while gold futures
settled less than 0.1% higher at $1,799.80 an ounce.
- In European equities, the Stoxx 600 Europe index
fell 0.5% and London’s FTSE 100
—Mark DeCambre and Steve Goldstein contributed to this report.