The Nasdaq took a turn lower on Wednesday as President-elect Donald Trump targeted the biotech and pharmaceutical industry in a press conference.
The Nasdaq slid 0.24%, the S&P 500 was down 0.13%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.05%, though had dipped into negative territory during Trump's press conference.
Biotech stocks sold off shortly after Trump suggested he would bring pharmaceutical production back to the U.S. In his first press conference since July, Trump said pharmaceutical companies have been "getting away with murder." The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) slumped more than 2%, while the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (XBI) slid 4%.
Lockheed Martin (LMT) also tumbled after Trump reiterated that his presidency would seek to cut costs in the construction of a new Air Force fleet.
Trump repeated a number of his previous talking points, including that he would not release his tax returns as they were under audit and that only the press cared about the issue. Trump also noted that the president cannot have a conflict of interest.
Trump also pointed out the potential that intelligence agencies could have been behind the leak of unverified reports of his links to Russia on Tuesday, despite no evidence. Trump also called the reports "fake news."
Trump's election in November has lit a fire under stocks, particularly the Dow. Since the day after the election in November, the Dow has rocketed more than 8% higher on the hopes of higher construction spending in the U.S. and loosened regulations on Wall Street. The Dow last week came within a point of the 20,000 milestone before backing off.
"On the spending side, the equity market appears to expect large health care cutbacks, but has moderated its initial post-election expectations for increased infrastructure spending," Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a note on Wednesday. "On the tax side, the equity market appears to expect corporate tax cuts, but the evidence that a switch to a border-adjusted tax is even partially priced is only mixed."
Merck (MRK) contributed the largest gains to the Dow after one of its lung cancer treatments gained progress toward going to market. On Tuesday evening, the drugmaker said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had allowed a priority review for Keytruda as a lung cancer treatment.
Crude oil prices lost gains on Wednesday higher after a weekly reading on inventories showed an increase nearly four times what analysts had expected. U.S. crude stocks rose by 4.1 million barrels in the past week, partially reversing a drop seen a week earlier. Analysts had expected inventories to rise by 1.2 million barrels. Gasoline and distillates stocks also rose faster than expected.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Tuesday increased its forecast for U.S. crude output this year to 9 million barrels a day, up from 8.78 million in its previous forecast. A weekly report on Friday showed U.S. drilling activity increase for the 10th consecutive week in a row.
West Texas Intermediate crude was flat at $50.89 a barrel after climbing by more than 1% earlier Wednesday.
Signet Jewelers (SIG) fell after reducing its profit and sales targets for the critical holiday season. The jewelry retailer anticipates fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of $4 to $4.05 a share, down from its previous high-end range of $4.20. Same-store sales are anticipated to have fallen 4.8% to 4.3%. The company said its underperformance was driven by weakness in its Sterling e-commerce business.
Supervalu (SVU) reported a disappointing quarter, swinging to a surprise loss and posting a drop in same-store sales. The grocery store chain reported a 5.7% drop in same-store sales, a sharper decline than an anticipated fall of 4.7%. Overall revenue fell 1.4% to $3 billion, falling short of $3.79 billion consensus.
American Airlines (AAL) climbed 1% after reporting December traffic numbers. Load factor slipped to 80.6% in December from 81.6% a year earlier, while traffic fell 0.8% and capacity increased 0.5%. The airline anticipates total revenue per available seat mile to come in flat to a 2% decline over the fourth quarter.
Exxon Mobil (XOM) was downgraded to market perform from outperform at Wells Fargo. The firm said the oiler trades at a premium valuation and will likely struggle to find attractively valued assets to acquire.
Boeing (BA) could conduct involuntary layoffs of engineers as part of cost-cutting measures, according to an internal memo obtained by Reuters. Other voluntary layoffs in Washington state, southern California and South Carolina are also possible. The measure is in response to increasing competition and slowing sales.
Volkswagen (VLKAY) shares were active after the carmaker confirmed it was close to agreeing to a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over its emissions-rigging scandal. The settlement could include admission of guilt for unspecified charges and a payment of $4.3 billion in fines. The automaker has already reached a $15 billion civil settlement with environmental groups and car owners in the U.S.