S&P, Nasdaq, Dow slides on strong economic data; Micron hits chipmakers

Spencer Platt US stocks on Thursday had clawed back a chunk of their losses but were still on track to end deep in negative territory. Sentiment was weighed down by robust economic data that potentially gives room for the Federal Reserve to continue policy tightening. Micron Technology (MU) dragged down semiconductor stocks after announcing layoffs and a disappointing outlook. With less than an hour of trading left, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (COMP.IND) was down 2.26% to 10,467.39 points, with Amazon (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple (AAPL) putting pressure on the index. The benchmark S&P 500 (SP500) was 1.52% lower at 3,819.38 points, while the blue-chip Dow (DJI) declined 1.11% to 33,007.39 points. The Nasdaq earlier fell as much as 3.70%, the S&P fell as much as 2.94% and the Dow fell as much as 2.41%. All 11 S&P sectors fell, with Consumer Discretionary and Technology the top losers. Volume is also expected to be lower on Thursday, with many traveling ahead of the Christmas long weekend. The final measure of Q3 GDP growth was revised upwards to 3.2%, more than the expected 2.9%, indicating a robust economy despite the Fed’s aggressive rate hikes. Additionally, the number of Americans filing for initial jobless claims came in lower than expected, rising by 2K to 216K compared to the projected 225K. The data showed that the labor market continued to remain stubbornly resilient. Also fueling some of the negative sentiment is billionaire hedge fund manager David Tepper, who stated he’s been “leaning short” equities in the last couple of weeks as he doesn’t see interest rates coming down soon around the world. “The Tepper trade in reverse – that appears relevant to today’s market decline,” Keith Lerner, co-chief investment officer at Truist, told Seeking Alpha, referring to a phenomenon where either the economy weakens and that tames inflation but also likely hits corporate profits and challenges asset prices; Or instead the economy stays stronger, as does inflation, and the Fed and other central banks continue to tighten policy, also challenging asset prices. Our view is for economic data to weaken into 2023 against global central banks, such as the Fed and the ECB, that seem solidly focused still on inflation – so, in other words, it appears central banks will continue to tighten into a weakening economy. And market valuations are not compelling given these macro risks. Therefore, we remain defensive in our positioning. David Tepper reinforced some of these trends in his CNBC interview,” Lerner added. In other economic data, the November index of leading indicators came in at -1.0% to 113.5 compared to the expected -0.5% figure. “The decline in the Leading Economic index that was released today also is reinforcing recession concerns. It is now down 4.5% on a Y/Y basis – the worst case since the COVID recession. Historically, it has never been this deeply negative without a recession occurring,” Truist’s Lerner said. Turning to the bond markets, rates were mixed. The 10-year Treasury yield (US10Y) was flat at 3.68%. The 2-year yield (US2Y) rose 5 basis points to 4.27%. Among active movers, chip giant Micron fell after it indicated that demand for its memory chip products continued to fall and announced plans to cut 10% of its workforce. Micron’s drop weighed on the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX), while shares of peers such as NXP Semiconductors (NXPI) and Marvell Technology (MRVL) slipped.

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