NEW YORK, RAW – The Dow and S&P 500 ended modestly lower on Friday, dragged down by losses in blue-chip technology stalwarts Intel and IBM following their quarterly results, as hopes for a full economic reopening in the coming months waned.
IBM Corp slumped and was the top drag on the Dow Jones Industrial Average after it missed estimates for quarterly revenue, hurt by a rare sales decline in its software unit.
Intel Corp slipped as new Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger’s post-earnings comments suggested the lack of a strong embrace of outsourcing.
However, losses in the tech sector were offset by gains from Microsoft Corp, Apple Inc and Facebook Inc , keeping the declines on the main US stock indexes in check and lifting the Nasdaq slightly.
Energy and financials were the worst performers among the 11 S&P sectors on Friday, while the defensive utilities and real estate advanced.
“Any delay or setback in the reopening theme is probably going to be a headwind for the energy sector,” said Andrew Mies, chief investment officer at 6 Meridien in Wichita, Kansas.
“(But)the market is telling you that its confidence in the cyclicals are diminished right now.”
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq pared some losses shortly after the opening bell as data showed US manufacturing activity surprisingly surged to its highest level in more than 13-1/2-years in early January, in contrast to a disappointing result in the purchasing manager data in Europe earlier.
Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 179.03 points, or 0.57 per cent, to 30,996.98, the S&P 500 lost 11.6 points, or 0.30 per cent, to 3,841.47 and the Nasdaq Composite added 12.15 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 13,543.06.
Despite the weakness, the three major indexes were set for weekly gains, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq tracking for its best weekly performance since November 6 as investors piled into Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc in anticipation of their earnings reports in the coming weeks.
With stock valuations nearing levels not seen since the Dotcom era, some market participants said new COVID-19 variants and hiccups in vaccine rollouts pose near-term risks.
President Joe Biden said on Friday the US economic crisis was deepening and that the government needs to take major action now to help struggling Americans.
“The absolute assurance that investors felt a week ago with regards to how the reopening of the vaccination, the decline in the virus, some of that starting to fade out of the market.” Mies added.
The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved Janet Yellen’s nomination as the first woman Treasury secretary, indicating that she will easily win full Senate approval.